NHS Lanarkshire has issued a 'black' alert, indicating the board is at the highest possible risk status.

The health board said beds were now at critical occupancy levels across its three acute hospitals.

Laura Ace, Strategic Commander and Deputy Chief Executive of NHS Lanarkshire, said relentless pressures including staff shortages due to sickness, stress and self-isolation had compounded the situation.

The board cancelled the majority of non-urgent planned operations in August and said more were now having to be postponed including cancer surgery with four patients affected.

The military is providing support to hospitals and the board said it was exploring other actions to increase staff.

 “The sustained pressure continues across our three acute hospitals and is showing no signs of easing," said the Deputy Chief Executive.

"We are facing relentless pressures, bed shortages and staff shortages due to sickness, stress and self-isolation and University hospitals Hairmyres, Monklands and Wishaw are all at maximum capacity

“The safety of our patients and staff is our top priority and we are working through short and medium term actions to increase staffing and also improve the flow of patients out of hospital. The military are providing additional support within our hospitals.

“We took the decision at the end of August to temporarily postpone the majority of non-urgent planned care procedures and, unfortunately, the current pressures mean we are having to further stand down elective (planned) procedures including some cancer procedures, which we will reschedule as soon as possible.

“The current situation is unprecedented and marks a different level of risk for NHS Lanarkshire as a whole and moves our current status to the highest level of risk.