Health bosses are warning the coronavirus pandemic has undone “10 or 15 years of improvements”.
And NHS Dumfries and Galloway chief executive Jeff Ace has warned it will take years to recover from the pandemic.
Towards the end of 2021, elective surgery at Dumfries Infirmary was temporarily scaled back and wards designed for single beds were used by two beds at the same time.
The region’s health and social care partnership also warned families, friends and community groups could be asked to carry out tasks for relatives and vulnerable people getting care at home as staff tried to cope with “the most challenging winter ever”.
And, on top of that, they are now having to start planning for how the health service will run once the pandemic comes to an end.
Mr Ace said: “If you look at simple waiting times, we’ve probably lost 10 or 15 years of improvements in the past two years.
“It’s of that scale, so the recovery period is going to be measured in months and years. It’s not going to be a week’s progress when we’ll suddenly be flying again and everything will feel normal.
“This will be the challenge for the rest of our careers to rebuild a service model that meets the performance targets people would expect us to achieve.
“We’re a damaged system. We’ve been running two years in an emergency situation dealing with issues and problems we’ve never seen before.
“Disruption to our service model, whether elective care or the normal way GP services and communities services work, has been incredibly profound.
“Somehow staff teams pretty much exhausted and thinly stretched have got to create recovery trajectory, get people talking about improvement and how we get back to the levels of service we’ve seen in the past.”
The latest figures show there were 724 positive PCR tests in Dumfries and Galloway in the seven days up to January 23, compared to 752 the week before. In each of the first two weeks of the year there were nearly 3,000 new cases in the region.
Yesterday a further 152 positive PCR tests were reported. There are currently 47 people in the region’s hospitals who have coronavirus.
Monday saw the further easing of coronavirus restrictions, with nightclubs reopening and the end of the need for 1m social distancing in hospitality venues. First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced on Tuesday more rules would be relaxed, with the phased end of home working getting under way from Monday.