The only acute district hospital in the Highlands has had to cancel urgent operations due to ‘extreme pressure’ in its emergency department.
Raigmore Hospital has seen high numbers of admissions through Accident and Emergency over the weekend resulting in elective and some urgent procedures being delayed.
NHS Highland’s head of Acute Services said the action was a “last resort” and that patients in the facility may be moved into community settings to help free up beds for emergency cases.
Local Accident and Emergency (A&E) departments across the region remain open for those in life-threatening conditions.
“Rescheduling surgery is always a last resort…”Katherine Sutton, chief officer for Acute Services with NHS Highland
We have seen continued high numbers of emergency admissions to Raigmore over the weekend, which has led us to delay some elective and even some urgent operations.
Katherine Sutton, chief officer for Acute Services with NHS Highland, said: “Rescheduling surgery is always a last resort as we know the disappointment this can cause, and I apologise to everyone affected.
“We are under extreme pressure and need to make beds available for emergency admissions.
“We are also taking other action to try and discharge patients who can be supported at home, and I would like to thank the relatives and carers who make this possible.
“There may be cases where people can be treated or moved for recuperation to one of our community-based facilities, so if you have a relative in Raigmore, it is possible you will be contacted about them being moved.”
Members of the public have been asked to access the “right service at the right time”.
NHS Highland said calling 111 will help to direct you to the most appropriate care, which may be quicker and closer to home than attending an emergency department.
The health board said you will be called back by a clinician if necessary, and same-day prescriptions can be arranged for a local pharmacy.
Community pharmacies and minor injury units are also options to help with minor illnesses or injuries.
Mrs Sutton said: “Please consider which service is best for you and this may help us provide the best service to the population of Highland.
“Unless you have a life-threatening emergency, please call 111 first for advice on the right service to access.
“Our staff and partners, not only in hospitals but in all health and care settings, are working incredibly hard to provide the best care possible. Thank you for your patience and understanding during this time of high demand on our health care system.”