NHS Scotland has filled more than 80% of its Covid-19 hospital capacity, according to official figures.
A total of 1,959 patients were in care with coronavirus on Tuesday while the number of beds available on a national basis is 2,400 – meaning 82% of capacity was filled.
Scottish Government figures also show three health boards are operating above capacity – NHS Lanarkshire, NHS Dumfries and Galloway as well as NHS Ayrshire and Arran.
It comes as the Scottish Government drafted in five private hospitals to perform urgent operations and cancer treatments during the coronavirus crisis.
Urgent care and cancer treatment, including breast surgery, will now be carried out at the Albyn Hospital in Aberdeen, the Kings Park Hospital in Stirling, the Nuffield and Ross Hall hospitals in Glasgow and the Spire Hospital in Edinburgh.
NHS Scotland chief operating officer John Connaghan said: “Overall, the NHS is exceptionally busy. I cannot remember in a 30-plus-year career anything like this pressure on the NHS.
“However, the NHS is coping and is able to provide services across Scotland on a daily basis. We maintain the ability to provide emergency and cancer services.
“1,959 – that’s the number of hospital patients with Covid-19 on January 18 on a national basis – that’s roughly about an 80% fill rate against our available Covid-19 capacity on a national basis.”
On Monday, Ayrshire and Arran had 221 inpatients – 52 above its 169-bed winter capacity.
Lanarkshire has a Covid-19 bed limit of 303 but had 367 hospital patients while Dumfries and Galloway was one above its 68-bed capacity.
Health boards have the option to move people to other areas to receive treatment, such as using the Golden Jubilee National Hospital.
The figures also show Scotland has filled around 40% of its ICU beds – 146 out of 360 – which are used for patients with and without coronavirus.
Meanwhile, the NHS has funding worth up to £15 million to use up to 75% of private hospital space until the end of March if needed.
It is likely this would be for non-coronavirus treatments and not all of the funded is expected to be used.
The Scottish Government earlier confirmed that five independent hospitals would be carrying out elective care from this week to ensure patients with an urgent need can still be treated.
The move was announced as Pam Dudek, chief executive of NHS Highland, told MSPs on Holyrood’s Health Committee that medics at Raigmore Hospital in Inverness were now only carrying out urgent surgeries.
Speaking about the impact coronavirus had had on the health board, she said: “We had to step down significantly elective care during wave one and have had to pull back on it in these last two weeks, back to urgent and move away from routine electives in Raigmore, which we hope will only be for the short term.”
Similarly, last week both NHS Ayrshire and Arran and NHS Lanarkshire announced they had been forced to postpone elective surgeries in the wake of rising Covid-19 cases.
In this wave of the pandemic, the number of patients needing hospital care has exceeded the peak reached in April, with figures on Monday showing there were almost 2,000 people with coronavirus being treated in Scotland’s hospitals.
Health Secretary Jeane Freeman said the additional capacity provided by the independent sector – as well as by the NHS Golden Jubilee Hospital in Clydebank and the temporary NHS Louisa Jordan Hospital in Glasgow – was “very welcome”.
“The Scottish Government will continue to work closely with health boards to ensure those requiring urgent elective and vital cancer care can be seen as quickly and safely as possible,” she said.
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