HEALTH chiefs have admitted there is not one area within NHS Fife that is "untouched" by the impact of coronavirus.

NHS Fife are having to deal with an increase in Covid-19 case numbers and admissions to hospitals, more people going to A&E for emergency treatment and high levels of bed-blocking due to social care staff shortages.

Chief executive Carol Potter said there was "no magic wand to wave" and conceded: "There are significant ongoing challenges across the whole system.

"The challenges are across the rest of Scotland as well.

"A combination of factors are impacting this with an increase in Covid admissions, higher attendances at A&E and difficulties around the flow of patients through the system because of health and social care shortages.

"There is no area untouched."

There's been an increase in demand for all services but A&E has seen a significant rise, with activity levels 35 per cent higher than in January and more than 200 attendances each day on a regular basis.

General medical and surgical admissions were also around five per cent higher than pre-Covid levels.

NHS Fife says they're committed to remobilising services and maintaining all scheduled and planned care, but the increase in demand is putting a huge burden on top of already overworked staff.

The board recently postponed all non-urgent surgical procedures to help reduce the "unprecedented pressures" on healthcare provision and protect urgent care and cancer services.

At last week's board meeting Ms Potter said: "Postponing non-urgent operations allowed us to move nursing staff into areas where there is pressure.

"There are no easy decisions to make but we have to look after our current staff.

"Newly qualified nurses will start next week but we need to let them acclimatise to their roles.

"We don't want any retraction of services but there is no magic wand to wave."

Fife Council's representative on the board, Cllr David Graham, said the pressure on NHS Fife "seemed to be unbearable now" and asked if patients were safe in the current climate.

Ms Potter replied: "This is a difficult conumdrum because it's a balance of risk.

"Every time we stop a service it's about doing the right thing for our patients and staff.

"This is not a time of peace."

Dr Chris McKenna, NHS Fife medical director, said: "It's very busy and that's when it's essential we have more communication.

"Safety huddles are the starting position in the morning, including all aspects of the hospital, and we have done this for a long time.

"It's changed a lot during Covid, it's done remotely but it's the whole system so it's understanding the pressure in each area.

"Performance is consistent despite the difficulties we are facing.

"Our staff continue to provide really good, quick care and the board should be reassured.

"Any support we can get from Fife Council is absolutely crucial because difficulties in the flow of the system impact our hospitals."

Recruitment of health and social care staff has also been piling pressure on hospitals as some patients who are well enough to leave wards are not doing so as the care package they need is not in place.

Nicky Connor, director of health and social care, said an action plan was in place and added: "The challenge we face is a nationwide challenge but there is work by the council and health colleagues to find a resolution."

Ms Potter concluded: "I want to thank the citizens of Fife. We are relying on their patience.

"We are aware that our decisions do affect many individuals and we regret that they are waiting longer than we would want."