NON-urgent elective surgery is to return in hospitals across Lanarkshire, health board bosses have confirmed. 

NHS Lanarkshire chiefs say the move is part of the "gentle remobilisation" of the NHS amid the gradual decline of Covid-19 cases in the area.

Only 15 patients are being treated in the health board for the virus - down from a January peak of 350 - while just one is in intensive care. 

READ MORE: NHS Lanarskhire health chiefs plead for vaccine appointment help

All non-urgent elective procedures were suspended at the start of the year to divert attention to the fight against Covid-19. 

Judith Park, NHS Lanarkshire director of acute services, said: “As part of NHS Lanarkshire’s plan to safely redesign and restart services affected by Covid-19, we are now in a position to gradually and safely restart some non-urgent elective care.

“Due to all the infection prevention and control measures required in our hospitals to ensure the safety of staff and patients, there are still a number of challenges in restarting services and we are asking the public for their continued patience and understanding.

“As part of our initial gentle remobilisation, we will be increasing our capacity over the next couple of weeks for endoscopy procedures for patients in a low-risk pathway – patients who are asymptomatic, have isolated at home for a short period prior to the treatment and have no known contact with a Covid case.”

NHS Lanarkshire - which manages hospitals in the likes of Airdrie and Wishaw - is able to reduce physical distancing to one metre in endoscopy units following updated Health Improvement Scotland (HIS) and the Scottish Intercollegiate Guidelines Network (SIGN) guidance.

Ms Park added: “This has allowed us to increase our capacity and see more patients. Other infection prevention and control measures such as wearing a face mask and robust hand washing must remain in place.

READ MORE: Lanarkshire health chiefs apologise after people made to wait hours for Covid jag

“Staff have worked tirelessly treating Covid and non-Covid patients throughout the pandemic and the safety of staff and patients is of paramount importance. We continue to take all necessary action to ensure safe and effective patient care.

“Appointments will continue to be prioritised on clinical need. Patients will receive a letter, text message or voice message giving details of their new appointment.

“Patients who continue to have their appointment postponed will be notified by text message. The decision to postpone any appointment is not one that we take lightly and I apologise for the impact on patients.”