Two health boards have made the decision to postpone elective surgery in the face of rising Covid-19 cases.
All elective surgery will be postponed in NHS Ayrshire & Arran and NHS Lanarkshire as a result of a sustained rise in coronavirus cases.
NHS Lanarkshire revealed the health board only had 46 free beds left, while almost 300 people were being treated for Covid-19.
It said it would continue to offer maternity and neonatal clinics as normal, as well as appointments for urgent referrals, including cancer referrals.
Judith Park, director of acute services for NHS Lanarkshire, said: “The safety of our patients is always our top priority.
“Winter is always a difficult time for the NHS. However, the current pandemic has had an additional impact on our services.
“The hospitals are full and the numbers of Covid-19 admissions are increasing. As such, there are only 46 beds currently available to new patients.
“We currently have nearly 300 patients being treated for Covid-19 in our hospitals, with additional patients currently waiting on test results. However, we are anticipating this number to double within a week, putting our hospitals under severe pressure.
“To ensure our services operate as safely as possible, we have taken the decision to cancel non-urgent outpatient appointments and planned procedures from today at all our acute sites.
“The decision to cancel any appointment is not one that we take lightly and I apologise for the impact this will have on patients. Most patients will receive a text message confirming the cancellation of their appointment.”
NHS Ayrshire & Arran said all surgeries will now be decided on a case-by case basis to ensure the staff do not become overwhelmed.
Dr Crawford McGuffie from the health board 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.”