NHS Highland to restart carrying out non-urgent operations

Hospitals preparing to broaden general duties in wake of pandemic.

NHS Highland is preparing to lift a virtual ban on non-emergency medical operations – but with a caveat to avoid complacency about coronavirus.

Pre-empting expected pressures on the region’s health services, most elective operations such as hip and knee replacements were postponed due to the Covid-19 outbreak.

The health board has indicated that the impact of the pandemic on the service is not as profound as it had anticipated.

It has reaffirmed that some elective work had continued but that it reduced such operations to allow theatre space and personnel to expand critical care.

A spokeswoman for NHS Highland said it had been able to maintain “urgent and time dependent surgery” by using one theatre for the purpose.

A second theatre is to be brought back into use.

The board’s interim director of public health Dr Ken Oates acknowledged that the region has one of Scotland’s lowest rates of cases of the virus.

He attributed that to three things – public compliance with “social distancing” guidance, the work by health and social care staff to contain the spread of infection and because of the Highlands’ rural geography and dispersed population.

He said NHS Highland was “in a good place”.

Health officials are, however, warning against complacency, advising people to continue to observe social distancing rules.

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