THE number of cancelled operations is creeping back up in Fife to the highest level since the beginning of the pandemic, figures show.

In June, NHS Fife had the largest number of scheduled operations cancelled for capacity and non-clinical reasons since March 2020.

A total of 26 operations were cancelled for non-clinical reasons in June 2021, the highest since March 2020 when 59 operations were cancelled at the start of the UK-wide lockdown.

The Public Health Scotland figures for June 2021 show a similar trend across Scotland as a whole, with 417 operations cancelled due to a lack of capacity or resources – the highest since March 2020.

Wendy Chamberlain, MP for North East Fife said: “Everything we have seen over recent months, whether it be a huge backlog of patients waiting for treatment, A&E delays, delayed discharges or cancelled operations, shows that staff at NHS Fife are under significant pressure and they don’t have the capacity and resources to cope.

“No-one said it would be easy to relieve the pressure put on our healthcare system over the course of the pandemic but the Scottish Government was warned, even before COVID, that many waiting times were out of control and that staff and facilities were operating beyond capacity.

“Warm words are less than useless, we need a full recovery plan from the Scottish Government with immediate and long-term support packages for our NHS. The longer this situation continues, the more long-term damage it will have on staff morale and patient care.”

NHS Fife have said they are working to “minimise” the time that patients wait to be seen.

NHS Fife director of acute services, Claire Dobson, said: “Like all health boards across the country, the higher prevalence of COVID in Fife in the early part of this year led to a significant increase in the number of people requiring inpatient hospital care.

“Our clinical staff continue to work diligently to triage patients to ensure those with the greatest clinical need are prioritised.

“We recognise that the pandemic has led to many people waiting longer for elective procedures and we are working to minimise the time that patients wait to be seen.

“For that reason, we have not cancelled our elective programme and we continue to perform as many procedures as we can carry out safely under current circumstances and in line with our Scottish Government-approved Remobilisation Plan.”

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “Despite the challenges created by the COVID-19 pandemic, our NHS still managed to carry out over 600 operations on average per day in June. It is a testament to our hard-working NHS staff that over 90 per cent of operations continue as planned.

“As our NHS responded to a growing number of hospital admissions alongside urgent and emergency care during the early part of 2021, the capacity to undertake planned procedures naturally reduced.

“Pausing non-urgent activity and the phased reintroduction of services has inevitably led to planned operations being cancelled.

“We are working with health boards to remobilise our NHS safely, ensuring decision-making is clinically-led and evidence-based. As part of this, we will publish an NHS Recovery Plan within 100 days of this new term of Government, setting out our aim to not only restore activity to previous levels, but, crucially, to exceed them.”