A TOTAL of 188 members of health staff are currently absent across Ayrshire because of Covid.

An increase in Covid-19 admissions, staff absence and rising emergency attendances, has resulted in significant pressures across the whole health and care system.

Dr Crawford McGuffie, medical director at NHS Ayrshire and Arran said: "NHS Ayrshire and Arran has prepared extensively to deal with Covid-19 and continues to work to ensure we have the right resources, equipment and staffing in place.

"We currently have 188 NHS Ayrshire and Arran staff self-isolating at home as a result of testing positive.

"This is an extremely challenging time for many of our staff. We are extremely grateful to our teams for the continued support to patient care under difficult circumstances, while also providing support to colleagues."

Joan Edwards, director of acute services, added:"Due to current pressures at University Hospital Crosshouse, we are diverting ambulances to University Hospital Ayr for a short period of time. This is in the interest of patient safety and will allow us to continue to provide the highest quality of care possible.

"There are times when we experience a high demand for our unscheduled care services and our staff work extremely hard to assess and treat patients as quickly as possible. We have in place contingency measures to cope with any surge in demand and our two acute hospitals work hand in hand to receive emergency patients as the need arises."

She encouraged members of the public to consider whether their ailments necesitate a trip to A&E in order to lighten the load on hospital staff.

She added: "Winter is always a busy time for our Emergency Departments so we continue to ask members of the public to stop, think, and ask if it is an emergency."