An NHS board has suspended many surgeries and appointments amid “unprecedented demand”, staff absences and rising emergency attendances.
NHS Ayrshire and Arran has cancelled some planned services so it can redeploy staff to cover emergency care.
The region’s healthcare chief said it was an “extremely challenging time” for medical workers as it remained under “emergency planning conditions”.
Elective surgeries have been paused until the end of the month so that cancer surgery and cancer diagnostic procedures can be maintained.
“This was an extremely difficult decision to make and we would like to apologise to any patients who experience a delay…”Professor Hazel Borland
Some outpatient services have also been suspended so that healthcare staff can continue dealing with urgent appointments and assessments for potential cancer diagnoses.
The board’s interim chief executive Professor Hazel Borland said it was “an extremely difficult decision to make”.
She said: “Increased Covid-19 admissions, staff absence and rising emergency attendances, has resulted in significant pressures across the whole health and care system.
“This pressure is being felt right across acute services, and primary and community care, with unprecedented demand for services compounded by staff absences.”
“This was an extremely difficult decision to make and we would like to apologise to any patients who experience a delay in their surgery or outpatient appointment as a consequence of this decision.”
NHS Ayrshire and Arran has 56 people with recently confirmed Covid-19 in hospital – the highest number since March 11.
Of those, eight people are in intensive care, the highest since February 26.
Professor Borland said the decisions would be kept under constant review and wanted to assure patients that efforts were being made to minimise delays.
She said all emergency and cancer-related activity will continue during September at both NHS Ayrshire and Arran hospitals.
The health board chief also said that staff were encouraged to make use of the staff hubs for their emotional and physical wellbeing.
She said: “I would like to take this opportunity to acknowledge the ongoing commitment of our staff. We are extremely grateful to our teams for the continued support to patient care under difficult circumstances, while also providing support to colleagues.”