Statistics released today show a 55 per cent drop in planned operations in Dumfries and Galloway in June, compared to the same period last year.

In June 2019, 1,439 scheduled elective procedures were carried out, compared to 652 in June 2020.

Across Scotland, fewer than 7,000 planned operations were scheduled for June this year compared just under 27,000 for June last year.

Colin Smyth has said while cancelling scheduled operations was understandable during the peak of the Covid-19 pandemic, it is now essential the NHS can safely work through the backlog.

The local MSP said: “This huge drop in scheduled operations is alarming and painfully difficult for thousands of patients in Dumfries and Galloway.

“This is a Scotland wide issue and the local NHS had little choice but to follow Government guidance. However, the uncomfortable truth is that the Scottish Government’s pandemic preparations were inadequate, and the NHS has largely locked down, to the detriment of many patients with other needs.

“Thousands of patients have had their operations cancelled, chronic pain clinics are closed, and people are losing hope. A backlog of delayed surgery is snowballing, and new patients fear they’ll wait years to be treated.

“The SNP’s Treatment Time Guarantee wasn’t worth the paper it was written on before Covid-19 hit and the only guarantee patients have now is that it will take a very long time to be seen.

“The Health Secretary must restart NHS services to ensure that patients get the treatment they desperately need.”

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