Bosses at a cash-strapped health board have put on hold all planned, non-urgent operations for three weeks over the festive period.
NHS Tayside said emergency surgery, urgent procedures and all cancer surgeries would still be carried out.
But there will be a “step-down of all planned procedures” at Perth Royal Infirmary, Ninewells Hospital in Dundee and Stracathro Hospital, near Brechin in Angus, from December 18 through to January 8 next year.
A health board spokeswoman said: “Every winter NHS Tayside, along with all other health board areas, experiences an increase in unplanned admissions which in previous years has meant the step-down at short notice of patients’ planned treatments, which we know is very distressing for patients, their families and disruptive for our staff.
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“Patients are also more likely to choose not to come in for their procedure over the festive time as they have family commitments.
“Procedures which have been planned to go ahead are often cancelled by patients at the last minute as they feel they are unable to come in over the festive period.
“Therefore, our annual winter plan for this year includes a three-week step-down of non-urgent, elective procedures from Monday, 18 December 2017 to Monday, 8 January 2018 across our three surgical sites - Ninewells Hospital, Perth Royal Infirmary and Stracathro Hospital.”
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She stated: “Emergency surgery, urgent procedures and all cancer surgeries will be unaffected and will take place as normal during this time.”
Earlier this month a report by public spending watchdogs at Audit Scotland warned NHS Tayside faces a funding gap of almost £50 million this year as financial difficulties continue.
In June NHS Scotland chief executive Paul Gray announced a team of troubleshooters was being sent in to help the board after an independent report called into question its five-year transformation programme.
The independent advisory group, led by Professor Sir Lewis Ritchie, noted that NHS Tayside has been unable to operate within its financial resources for the last five years and was unlikely to return to financial balance over the next five.
Colin Smyth, Scottish Labour’s public health spokesman said: “The shambles at NHS Tayside continues.
“The health board has needed to be bailed out by the Government for the last five years running, and now we see operations being suspended over winter.
“It’s utterly shameful that an NHS board should be in this state anywhere in the country, never mind in the Health Secretary’s own backyard.”