South Scotland MSP Colin Smyth has raised his concerns over the impact on local NHS services due to the recent rise in Covid-19 cases, after NHS Dumfries and Galloway announced they had been forced to cancel some planned operations.
In a recent statement the local NHS said “Due to the rise in Covid-19 cases in the past few weeks we are beginning to see small numbers of admissions of patients with Covid-19 which causes some delay to usual patient flow because of additional infection control requirements. Unfortunately, the very high levels of hospital occupancy have necessitated cancellation of some non-urgent surgery over the past few weeks.”
The statement comes after the number of Covid cases rose from 64 in the seven days to 18 June, to 199 in the seven days to 2 July. In terms of people in hospital, numbers rose to six on 22 June. The figure remained at five between June 27-29 and is now again at less than five.
South Scotland MSP Colin Smyth said: “I know this decision won’t have been made lightly by NHS Dumfries and Galloway and they simply don’t have the capacity needed to manage the increase in Covid cases we are seeing, while still continuing planned surgery at the level they have been carrying out in recent weeks.
“Our NHS and care staff have been working round the clock for nearly two years now dealing with this pandemic but we don’t have enough of them.
“The consequence of cancelling these operations is that waiting times, which had already risen due to the focus on Covid, will continue to go up.
“You cannot dismiss this as non-urgent treatment being cancelled. The NHS doesn’t carry out surgery that isn’t needed. Many people will be in pain waiting for their operations which may already have been delayed a long-time.
“Having been given a date, sometimes after many months, it will be a real blow to have that taken away and the Scottish Government really do need to urgently look at ways they can fund a sustainable increase in capacity.
“We are going to have to live with Covid for a long time to come and we can’t have the NHS being forced to choose between tackling the virus and treating other conditions.
“We know this doesn’t just affect operations – other services such as cancer screening have been scaled back and I fear we are creating a real ticking time bomb when it comes to other health conditions because NHS staff are so stretched.”