The NHS’s Covid-related treatment backlog could take years to clear, South Scotland MSP Colin Smyth has warned.
Covid cases are on the rise across many parts of south Scotland and at least one health board has been forced to extend the cancellation of non-essential operations.
Last week NHS Borders said that due to continuing pressure in the Borders General Hospital and across the wider health system, all scheduled routine operations have been cancelled for a further two weeks (23 August – 5 September).
Routine operations in NHS Ayrshire and Arran are already on hold until the end of August.
Last month NHS Dumfries and Galloway was also forced to cancel some operations and the region is currently in the midst of a large spike in cases.
Colin Smyth said: “Prior to Covid our fantastic NHS staff were already having to deal with waiting lists that were too long. However, the pandemic has exacerbated that problem and put many clinics, operations and treatments on hold for months, and now the NHS is being forced to play catch up. Indeed, some NHS boards are still being forced to cancel routine operations.
“I fear that it will take years for the NHS to be able to get back to the waiting time levels we saw before Covid.
“The Scottish Government has been too slow in setting out a recovery plan for the NHS and putting in place the resources needed to get services back up and running.
“In her speech to the Scottish Parliament after the election in May, Nicola Sturgeon said ‘in our first hundred days, we will publish an NHS recovery plan – setting out how we will achieve a 10% increase in activity in key services’.
“But the only thing people in the south of Scotland have to show for the first 100 days are longer waiting times and yet more cancelled operations.”