Surging Covid-19 cases sees Lothian and Lanarkshire latest health boards to postpone operations

Operations across Edinburgh are being postponed because of the pressure caused by increasing numbers of patients and staff infected with coronavirus.

NHS Lothian becomes the latest health board to announce some planned surgeries were being pushed back so medical teams can focus on the most-urgent cases and patients.

The latest seven-day Covid-19 figures show that 568 per 100,000 people in Lothian have tested positive for the virus.

Chief officer of acute services for NHS Lothian, Jacquie Campbell (pictured), said: “Lothian is experiencing a high number of patients who have tested positive for Covid-19. We are seeing a rise in the number of patients admitted to hospital and in the numbers of staff who are required to self-isolate.

“As a result, we have to focus our capacity on the most urgent cases, which means that unfortunately we have had to postpone some planned procedures.

“We apologise to all of those patients who have been affected and would reassure them that their appointment will be re-arranged as soon as possible.”

Patients are also being urged to consider visiting pharmacies, minor injury departments and GPs rather than going to A&E.

NHS Lothian’s director of public health, Dona Milne, urged more people to get vaccinated and stick with face coverings, hand washing and social distancing.

So far, a total of 1,039,907 vaccine doses have been administered in Lothian – 626,427 first doses and 412,580 second doses.

Ms Milne said: “Covid hasn’t gone away and can still cause serious illness. It is critical we remember that.

“We know that 1 in 3 people who have Covid do not show symptoms of the virus but can still transmit it, so we should all be testing ourselves twice a week to keep ourselves, family and communities safe.

“We need every adult over the age of 18 to get their vaccination as soon as possible. We have made it easier by creating a huge network of vaccination clinics that offer drop-in and scheduled appointments and are operating in the heart of communities.

“We have also teamed up with Scottish Ambulance Service to take the vaccination bus to them and park it in shopping centres and other areas across Lothian.”

She added: “We know it can be hard for people to take time out of their working day, especially if they work in the retail and hospitality industry, so our clinics are running into the evening.

“We are also working with local authorities and we would like to ask businesses and local employers to support their staff with time off to attend a vaccination clinic so that we can get people vaccinated as quickly as possible.”

NHS Lanarkshire have also confirmed that a “small number of planned surgeries” have had to be cancelled because of the mounting pressure of rising case numbers.

In total, 18 procedures will be rescheduled: five general surgery cases and eight new and five return outpatient operations.

The health board’s chief executive, Heather Knox, said: “We have seen exceptionally high numbers of people attending our emergency departments.

“Over recent weeks, we have seen higher numbers than we would normally see during the winter period and our staff are, struggling to cope.

“We would encourage people to seek advice from NHS inform or NHS 24 on 111 before they attend A&E.

“We have also seen an increase in the number of people admitted to hospital with Covid-19 and this is an additional pressure while we are trying to recover services and treat those patients who need our care; people who have planned operations which we are desperate to do.

“We also have staffing pressures as we currently have staff who are having to self-isolating due to contacts out of work.

“These combined pressures mean that we have had to take some difficult decisions. Unfortunately, we have had to cancel a small number of planned surgeries at University Hospital Wishaw for the rest of this week.

“This is not a decision we take lightly and I would like to apologise for any upset caused.”

On Wednesday, NHS Grampian said both Aberdeen Royal Infirmary and Dr Gray’s Hospital in Elgin, Moray had been operating at “code black”, with non-urgent elective procedures postponed.

It followed an announcement from NHS Highland that Raigmore Hospital in Inverness had also reached capacity and also stopped non-essential surgeries stopped.

Copyright (c) PA Media Ltd. 2021, All Rights Reserved. Picture (c) Andrew Cowan / Scottish Parliament.