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Coronavirus / Health boards defend record after MSP raises concern over number of cancelled operations

NHS SHETLAND chief executive Michael Dickson has defended the health board’s record since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic in March after Highland and Islands Conservative MSP Jamie Halcro Johnston raised concern over the number of cancelled operation both in Shetland and in Orkney.

Figures published by NHS Scotland indicate that the number of planned operations carried out in Lerwick and Kirkwall dropped by over 800 during the six months from April to the end of September 2020.

During the first six months in the years 2016 to 2019 NHS Shetland carried out an average 1,071 operations. In 2020 this number dropped to just 383, a reduction of 688.

Highlands and Islands Conservative Jamie Halcro Johnston.

Halcro Johnston called on the Scottish Government to ensure that those requiring operations were able to receive treatment.

“While this is clearly due to the impact of Covid-19 we should be mindful that, as we move into the winter months, we are likely to see the pressure placed on the NHS intensifying,” he said.

“It’s really important that the Scottish Government takes action to prevent this problem escalating, and ensures frontline staff are given the resources necessary to ensure procedures can take place.

“People requiring operations understand these are challenging times for the NHS but they must also be reassured that they will receive the treatment they require.”

Dickson, who is also chief executive of NHS Orkney, said both health boards undertook significant work to re-organise services to ensure that the risks Covid presented could be managed.

NHS Shetland chief executive Michael Dickson. Photo: Shetland News

“We have had Covid patients through our hospitals and fortunately only a small number have required the intensive level of support we witnessed in places such as Italy,” he said.

“However, now, as we prepare for winter and a second wave of Covid, we are again standing ready for what could be a surge in people needing hospitalisation.”

He added that both health boards appreciated that there were people waiting for scheduled procedures.

“We have taken steps to assess the clinical needs of our patients to ensure that those who need care most urgently are helped as quickly as we can.

“Patients have understood the reasons for delays to their treatment have been unavoidable and due to Covid.

“Like all health boards we do not have unlimited resources which is why we are ensuring we are able to do as much as we can using Near Me video appointments, telephone consultations, on island treatments and working with our mainland board partners to support prioritisation of treatment.”