HEALTH chiefs in Ayrshire say they are still experiencing the effects of the sharp rise in Omicron cases as more than 270 members of staff have been self-isolating.

Although government figures suggest the number of Covid cases in Ayrshire and Arran is falling, bosses at NHS Ayrshire and Arran say the illness, and the self-isolation requirement for those who test positive and their close contacts, is still having a significant effect on the delivery of services.

A total of 273 members of staff at the health board were isolating as a result of Covid as of January 11, compared with a figure of 188 for January 5.

Last month staff at Ayr Hospital were reported to be self-isolating after a pre-Christmas function at the Lochside House Hotel in New Cumnock – which staff at Cumnock Surgery had been told not to attend.

And last week NHS Ayrshire and Arran said ambulances were being diverted from Crosshouse Hospital to Ayr because of staff shortages.

A spokesperson for the health board said: “As a result of the Omicron variant of Covid-19, the number of positive cases within our communities is higher than at any other time in the pandemic.

“Increased Covid-19 admissions and emergency attendances have resulted in significant pressures across the whole health and care system. This pressure is being felt right across our acute services, and primary and community care, with unprecedented demand for services compounded by staff absences.

“As a consequence of the pandemic, we remain under national emergency planning conditions, and we remain entirely focused on taking action to try and ease the pressures on our health and care system and support patient and staff safety.

“NHS Ayrshire and Arran’s hospitals are currently operating at full capacity and have been for a number of months.

“As of Tuesday, January 11, 2022, 273 members of NHS Ayrshire and Arran staff are self-isolating at home as a result of testing positive for coronavirus (Covid-19).

“I would like to take this opportunity to acknowledge the ongoing commitment of our staff.

“We are extremely grateful to our teams for the continued support to patient care under these unprecedented and difficult circumstances, while also providing support to colleagues.”