NHS Borders has decided to cancel all routine operations until the end of January amid growing numbers of coronavirus cases.
In a press release issued today (Thursday, December 24), health board chief executive Ralph Roberts offered an apology to everyone affected.
Urgent and cancer procedures will still go ahead.
But the health board has decided to cancel routine, planned operations because it is preparing for a “further increase in demand” on services as COVID-19 cases continue to rise.
Mr Roberts said: “Taking this decision is not easy but it is necessary to make sure that we are able to continue vital services during this challenging time.
“We continue to see a rise in the number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the Borders and we must plan our services accordingly.
“I would like to apologise to those that this decision affects and I fully appreciate and understand how disappointing this must be.
“However I hope you will understand that patient and staff safety is our top priority, including providing the highest quality of care and support.
“Winter places a great deal of pressure on health and care services every year, and that is without including the impact of this deadly virus.
“The actions we all take now will have an impact in the coming months so please follow the rules.
“These rules are really important if we are to keep each other safe and allow time for the COVID vaccination programme to take place over the coming months.
“While I fully understand the disappointment many of us will feel having our Christmas plans disrupted, I would urge everyone to seriously consider how they can reduce their risk of catching COVID-19 in the run up to Christmas and on Christmas Day itself.
“I would urge everyone to fully comply with the new restrictions within Level 4 that will be in place from 1 minute past midnight on Boxing Day.
“This will be essential if we are to continue to protect our loved ones and also if we are to ensure that the health service is not overwhelmed.”
The health board had already cancelled operations until the end of December.