The margins for NHS capacity are much tighter than last year as the health service returns to non-Covid care, Nicola Sturgeon has said.
The First Minister responded to a question from Scottish Labour’s Jackie Baillie about reports of wards being full and an increase in patients with serious and complex conditions.
At First Minister’s Questions on Thursday, Ms Baillie said waiting lists have been growing longer.
She said: “Consultants in A&E are seeing more people with more chronic and undiagnosed conditions, presenting as emergencies.
“They warn that medical beds are at 120% to 130% capacity, and that has an impact on elective surgery, and the number of people waiting over a year for operations has almost doubled.
“Activity is below pre-pandemic levels, which is understandable, but in some areas there is simply not enough hospital beds to cope with even those admissions.”
The First Minister said remobilising the NHS is a priority for the Government, which will shortly publish its recovery plan.
Staff are working “flat out” to make sure those who have had treatment delayed are able to get help, she said.
Ms Sturgeon said: “The NHS generally is getting much closer now to pre-pandemic capacity.
“Many parts of the NHS are beyond that – attendances at A&E have gone beyond and above what they were going into the pandemic.
“Cancer referrals for example are now at 120% compared to April last year.”
Ms Sturgeon said staff face the “difficult task” of getting the balance between Covid and non-Covid care right.
She said: “Last year when we talked about not overwhelming our NHS, at that point we had pretty much set aside the whole capacity of the NHS.
“Right now that’s different. The NHS is getting back to normal so the margins around that are much tighter.”