South Scotland MSP Colin Smyth has raised his concerns over the long-term impact of Covid on local NHS services, after several health boards across the south of Scotland announced they had been forced to cancel some planned operations.
On Friday last week, NHS Lothian stopped elective surgery due to staff shortages and rising patient demand. Non-urgent outpatient appointments have also been cancelled to prioritise acute services.
Hours later, NHS Ayrshire and Arran also took the decision to cancel some planned procedures until the end of August.
It came just days after NHS Borders cancelled all scheduled routine operations until the end of this week due to pressure on services.
Last month NHS Dumfries and Galloway was also forced to cancel some planned operations.
South Scotland MSP Colin Smyth said: “I know these decisions won’t have been made lightly by our hard working NHS boards but they simply don’t have the capacity needed to manage the long term demands of Covid, while still continuing planned surgery at the level they have been carrying out recently.
“Our NHS and care staff have been working round the clock for nearly two years, 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 has 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.”