SYDNEY -- Overcrowding in the emergency department is affecting some elective surgeries at the Cape Breton Regional Hospital.

Thirteen elective surgeries were cancelled over two days because of overcrowding that's been described as even more chaotic than usual.

Dr. Chris Milburn says one major factor is the lack of physicians to cover in-patient services at the Northside, Glace Bay and New Waterford hospitals.

"Right now, we have chronically anywhere from 20 to 30 patients who are admitted to hospital and can't go home, but don't have a bed, so they get stuck in the ER in Sydney," Milburn said. "That means we don't have the room to work efficiently and makes our job that much harder."

Nova Scotia Health Minister Randy Delorey says negotiations are ongoing with Doctors Nova Scotia "to address concerns and proposals that have come forward. I won't go into detail, but the feedback I've been receiving is they're going very well."

Milburn says he's hoping an agreement will be reached soon to alleviate the workload and stress staff are experiencing.