Routine operations cancelled again as Covid-19 cases soar
Routine operations have again been cancelled as the rise of Covid-19 cases in the region is placing a “high demand” for NHS Borders services.
There were 1,333 new cases of the virus confirmed in the Borders in the seven days to Friday, January 7, with a further 147 over the weekend.
In an update issued last week, NHS Borders said its hospitals were operating at over 95 per cent capacity, with 34 inpatients being cared for with Covid-19.
Wider health services are also facing “significant staffing challenges” the health board said, due to Covid-19, self-isolation and the normal winter illnesses.
All routine operations scheduled for this week have been cancelled and NHS Borders is reducing the number of routine outpatient appointments being carried out in a bid to alleviate some of the pressure.
Essential visiting only has also been triggered across all of its sites for at least the next fortnight.
Dr Lynn McCallum, Medical Director of NHS Borders, said: “Cases of Covid-19 in the community are rising sharply, and we expect this to continue over the coming weeks.
"Given how contagious Omicron is and the high numbers of people requiring care there are significant pressures on our services; particularly when we factor in staff absences due to the virus.
“To make sure that we are able to continue vital services during this challenging time, it has been necessary to make a number of difficult decisions such as pausing routine surgery and moving to essential visiting.
"General Practitioners and other Primary care providers may also need to adjust the service they provide so that they can prioritise appointments and access for the most urgent and vulnerable patients."
Apologising to those that are affected by the decisions taken last week, Dr McCallum added: “We hope that you understand that patient and staff safety is our top priority, including providing the highest quality of care and support.
"We can assure you that we are doing everything possible to keep our patients and staff safe, whilst keeping the situation under constant review.
“ We request that all members of the public, whenever they are interacting with health services, take Lateral Flow Device (LFD) tests prior to attending health care settings as LFD tests help detect Covid-19 which enables us to limit the virus spreading.
“We would also ask that the public recognise that our staff are currently working under significant pressure and we are therefore very grateful for your co-operation and patience at a time when, despite our staff’s best efforts, we are not able to provide the normal quality of service that we would expect to do.
"We would like to thank our exceptional staff for their incredible ongoing efforts to keep our patients as safe as possible, at this very challenging time."