Concerns have been raised that NHS Fife may not be able to deliver its winter plan following a cut in funding from the Scottish Government.
Chief operating officer Ellen Ryabov warned that if demand on the region’s acute hospitals continues to increase, it could mean patients with less urgent conditions waiting longer for treatment.
NHS Fife has been given an additional allocation of £320,000 from Holyrood to see it through this winter.
Last year, it received £680,000 towards the £2 million spent on additional measures to help Fife’s health services cope with the extra seasonal demands.
The winter plan was approved as it was revealed the region’s acute services are facing a projected overspend of £4.5m in 2019/20.
“We’re getting about half of what we got last year and we already have an acute services division overspend,” said Ms Ryabov.
“If our demand continues to increase, the likelihood is our urgent flows will take precedence over our treatment time guarantee and that could come into question.
“In terms of planning, we are still trying to deliver it but there are quite a few elements of risk around our ability to do that.”
The winter plan seeks to ensure the needs of vulnerable and ill people are met “in a timely and effective manner” despite increases in demand.
Plans for severe weather, norovirus and flu have all been drawn up, along with methods for ensuring people ready to leave hospital are discharged quickly to free up beds.
A winter surgical programme will be introduced and more staff brought in.
Ms Ryabov added: “We have agreed to review the deliverability of the plan.
“Can we get the staff even if we have the resource?”
Mid Scotland and Fife Labour MSP Claire Baker said she was shocked at the level of the cut to winter funding.
“Winter is a challenging time that puts huge pressure on the NHS,” she said.
A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “We are supporting health boards to put robust plans in place ahead of winter.
“As in previous years, boards will receive additional resources to deal with pressures caused by winter, the details of which will be published shortly.
“NHS boards and integrated partnerships are working together to plan the action needed to ensure quality of care, patient safety and access to services are maintained over the winter period.”