New figures released on Tuesday by the Scottish Government’s Information Services Division (ISD) Scotland show the number of operations in Ayrshire and Arran dropped by 90 per cent in April (compared the same month in 2019), as the NHS focused on the Covid-19 pandemic.

There were 168 scheduled elective operations in April 2020, compared with 1,698 in April 2019. Looking at the change between March 2020 and April 2020, the drop was 86 per cent (from 1,229 to 168).

In Scotland, lockdown took effect from March 23 and many scheduled operations and procedures were cancelled as the NHS prepared for the pandemic.

South Scotland MSP Colin Smyth has praised the NHS and said that while the figures released today appear large, the cancellation of operations in Ayrshire and Arran was the right thing to do.

Colin Smyth said: “The huge drop in the number of operations carried out in the region in April, a fall of 90 per cent, is understandable given the focus of our NHS on tackling the Covid-19 crisis.

“This virus has impacted on every aspect of our lives but it has hit our healthcare services hardest.

“Once again I’d like to thank our NHS and health and social care workers who stepped up the mark and ensured we have been as safe and as well cared for as possible during this unprecedented time.

“I would urge people to continue to follow Scottish Government advice about what they should and shouldn’t do as lockdown measures are slowly lifted, the last thing anyone wants is a second wave of the virus.

“I do still have concerns about the consequences to the NHS in the future of so many non-urgent operations which were rightly cancelled or postponed during the pandemic, that’s why the NHS’ plans to begin to slowly restart procedures and other health clinics are so important so the negative impact of so many cancelled operations may be negated. We know that process will be slow but we do need ensure the huge backlog in elective surgeries are tackled as soon as it is safe to do so.”

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