NHS Dumfries & Galloway has warned "unprecedented" pressure means day-to-day decisions are having to be made on surgeries, and the crisis could last for weeks.

Hospitals across Scotland and the UK as a whole have faced severe strain over the winter, with high rates of flu and other respiratory illnesses causing long waiting times and a shortage of beds.

The demand has led Dumfries and Galloway Health and Social Care Partnership to cancel surgeries at short notice as it tries to ensure capacity and cope with the demand.

Chief officer Julie White warned that the strain is higher than the peak of the Covid pandemic, and day-to-day decisions are having to be made.

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The issues are expected to continue for several weeks.

She said: "The health and social care system is also supporting many older and vulnerable individuals who have multiple, complex needs that have been exacerbated by the pandemic.

“We are having to make day by day decisions on our capacity to deliver planned surgery. This is distressing for patients who receive late notice cancellation but reflects the prioritisation of those with the most immediate and pressing need.

The Herald:

“Similarly, we are exploring options to facilitate the accelerated discharge of patients. Currently, a very significant proportion of hospital staff are supporting patients who no longer have a need for further medical treatment or rehabilitation.

“It is essential that we do everything we can to return these individuals home or to a homely setting in order that we are able to provide the support to those most unwell patients – where immediate help can potentially be life-saving.

“We are appreciative of all support in this, particularly from all families and the thousands of Carers who already contribute so much to the sustainability of health and social care delivery.

“If you are able to think of ways in which you can support a loved one to get home from hospital now they have no further medical need to be there, please do get in touch with them and their clinicians.

“At this very challenging time, our priority has to be to minimise the risk of harm to individuals.

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“Today, well over 100 people are in hospital beds whose needs could be better met at home or in a homely setting, important operations are being cancelled and our Emergency Departments are under significant strain. Our GP practices, mental health teams and community-based health and social care teams are also experiencing unprecedented demands.

“To be clear, the primary consideration here is not facilities or equipment, but having the necessary volumes of staffing who have the skill and capacity to provide treatment and care to those in most urgent need.

“At this time, difficult decisions will need to be taken to ensure our staff can help meet the most urgent need and to ensure that our hospital has the capacity to deal with the next emergency attendance.

“We will keep you informed of this position and the difficult decisions which need to be taken to deal with this unprecedented level of pressure. It is likely that these pressures will persist in line with the traditional flu season and we are unlikely to see significant improvement for some weeks.”