SCOTTISH health boss Humza Yousaf has lavished praise on Ayrshire healthcare staff for “performing above and beyond the call of duty” throughout the pandemic.

Earlier this year he sent staff a letter outlining his thoughts on the service after helping carry out the NHS Ayrshire and Arran annual review.

And it was presented to the board at their monthly meeting on Monday.

The cabinet secretary for health and social care said: “You provided a helpful overview of the board’s initial response to the pandemic from late February 2020.

“This required an unparalleled, immediate and radical restructure of both services and ways of working across the NHS in Scotland, including in NHS Ayrshire and Arran.

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“The board’s response and recovery planning process involved the rapid reconfiguration of local health and care services, including a significant increase in the use of technology to deliver care outside hospitals or clinic settings.

“Staff at every level have consistently performed above and beyond the call of duty to support both local services and the national effort: for instance, with the unprecedented Test & Protect and vaccination programmes, as well as the crucial support and clinical oversight provided to local care homes."

He added: “An example of this had been the medical physics staff who had worked innovatively and tirelessly in the initial stages of the pandemic to bolster vital critical care capacity by converting anaesthetic machines to ventilators; alongside other largely unsung heroes,  and ensuring that key services, such as district nursing and health visiting, had been maintained throughout.

“Indeed, it is through the consistent dedication and commitment of local health and social care staff, under largely unrelenting pressures, that we have ensured that the NHS has not been overwhelmed at any point during the pandemic, to date.

“As such, I would want to formally record our deep appreciation to all local health and social care staff for their outstanding work, and give them an assurance that we will continue to do all we can to support them.”