NHS Ayrshire and Arran has suspended elective surgery in its hospitals due to the continual rise of coronavirus cases across the region.

The health board said the surge in COVID admissions was “placing great strain on every aspect of the system” and the decision to postpone non-urgent surgical procedures comes after it emerged NHS Ayrshire and Arran had breached its planned winter COVID capacity.

READ MORE: NHS Ayrshire and Arran breaches winter COVUID capacity  

However, health bosses confirmed that they will continue with emergency and planned cancer surgeries where possible which will be assessed on a “case-by-case basis” and procedures may go ahead in a different location.

NHS Ayrshire and Arran is the second health board to postpone non-urgent surgery with NHS Lanarkshire also taking the same decision. 

Dr Crawford McGuffie, medical director for NHS Ayrshire and Arran, said: “This phase of the pandemic is having the greatest impact on our communities in terms of positive cases, numbers admitted to hospital and sadly deaths. This is placing great strain on every aspect of the system.

“To ensure that we are able to provide care to the most urgent cases, emergency surgery will still go ahead, and where possible, planned cancer surgeries will also take place.

“Our clinical staff will liaise closely with patients who are impacted and we very much appreciate the understanding of members of the public in these challenging times.

"Patients should be reassured that their safety is our number one priority and we are taking all necessary steps to ensure that any risk as a result of exposure to COVID-19 is minimised.

“I would like to thank the public for their continued support at this time.

"It is important that we remember the symptoms of Coronavirus (COVID-19): new persistent cough; high temperature; and / or loss of taste and smell. Anyone who develops any of these symptoms should book a test and self-isolate immediately.

"Following this advice and FACTS guidance is now more important than ever.

· F – Face coverings. These should be used in shops and on public transport (buses, trains and taxis)

· A – Avoid crowded places.

· C – Clean your hands frequently, using water & soap whenever possible.

· T – Two metres – observe physical distancing.

· S – Self-isolate and book a test if you are suffering from COVID-19 symptoms."