A HEALTH chief has admitted that the pressures facing NHS Fife are "unrelenting" and show little sign of easing.

Waiting times in A&E have been slammed as the "worst ever" by an MSP, staff absence remains high and recruitment is a problem, key services were overspent just two months into the new financial year, waiting lists are getting longer and the number of Covid cases in hospital have increased.

At the recent board meeting, NHS chief executive Carol Potter admitted: "It's unrelenting at present but care and compassion is always there and I thank all the staff and teams involved for the work they're doing.

"There are significant difficulties facing our services, as always the situation facing health and care services are multi-faceted and there are a range of factors.

"Given the time of year our staffing absence, linked to the summer holiday period alongside an increased prevalence of Covid and a number of vacancies, is exacerbating the availability of our workforce and that's causing pressures amongst our staffing."

She said too many people were waiting too long to be seen in A&E but also pointed out the numbers coming to the emergency department at the Vic remain "beyond anything" they had experienced before the pandemic.

Ms Potter added: "We do have a high number of Covid-positive patients in hospital and this continues within both our acute hospital and our community hospitals.

"As we know those pressures that we are facing in the health service are replicated for our colleagues in the social care setting.

"That impacts on our ability to get the required level of patient flow through our hospitals.

"All of that has resulted in us being at our highest level of our operational escalation framework and response."

She said: "The teams are doing everything they possibly can in order to manage the situation.

"Where that's impacting on our patients and visitors, you'll be aware we've had to re-introduce some restrictions across our services to protect both staff and patients and we've had to reduce visiting to a single visitor but we are reviewing that on a weekly basis."

The chief told the meeting that NHS Fife wasn't alone and it was "evident from the range of discussions I've had that the range of issues we are facing locally are replicated across the country".

Ms Potter also said that a new round of Covid jabs would begin after the summer.

She added: "We have recently received final advice of the autumn Covid-19 booster programme from the JCVI (the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation) and that confirmed the groups who will be offered an additional booster in the autumn.

"That includes a number of groups we hadn't originally anticipated however we are working at pace and with a very focused attention to implement the guidance as soon as possible."