All non-urgent elective surgery at a hospital in the Highlands have been cancelled amid an increase in Covid-19 cases.
NHS Highland said Raigmore Hospital in Inverness has reached capacity and has been placed at “code black status”.
The health board said the number of Covid-19 cases across the area has increased “significantly”, which is having an impact on services as some patients are now being admitted to hospitals.
A large number of staff are having to self-isolate which is placing pressure on staffing levels, while over the past week it has continued to see “unprecedented” levels of demand across health and social care services.
NHS Highland said: “The impact of this at Raigmore Hospital, in particular, has been significant over the past few days.
“We have reached capacity in the hospital, we have long waits in our Emergency Department and we know people requiring urgent care will still need to come in for treatment. As a result, the hospital is currently at code black status.
“The impact on services is also being experienced across our community teams both in Highland and Argyll and Bute.
“Urgent work is taking place to ensure we can treat our patients appropriately and compassionately.
“Medical, surgical and clinical support teams are meeting regularly to agree the actions that must be taken and discuss what more can be done to reduce the pressure on services within the hospital.”
All non-urgent elective surgery has been cancelled as has outpatient activity, with the exception of cancer, urgent, Allied Health Professional and diagnostics activity.
The health board said that cancer and urgent cases will continue to be treated and staff will also, where possible, carry on with orthopaedic and day case work.
Dr Boyd Peters, medical director for NHS Highland, said: “We are doing all we can to safeguard services but we have had to make the difficult decision to cancel non-urgent work which I know many will find upsetting and frustrating. We are very sorry that we have had to do this.
“Covid is on the increase again but what is different this time is that we are seeing more medical and surgical activity at the same time. We also have a high number of staff having to self-isolate.
“If you are accessing services please be advised that your wait may be longer than expected. We are doing everything we can to minimise that but the pressure on the system is significant. We would also ask that you ensure you are accessing the right service for the care you need.”
The health board said it has stood up its internal incident command to manage its response to the “significant pressures” currently present across health and social care.