NHS Highland facing 'unprecedented pressures' exacerbated by rising Covid numbers
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NHS Highland says it is facing "unprecedented pressures" across its health and social care system, exacerbated by a rise in Covid-19 numbers in the region.
The health board says it is seeking to protect its most vital services and is asking members of the public for their support and understanding.
Some people requiring operations are likely to face a longer wait.
NHS Highland’s medical director Dr Boyd Peters said today: “Our entire health and social care teams are working harder than ever to ensure we continue to deliver health and social care to people across Highland, Argyll and Bute.
“The pressure on services is unprecedented, which is exacerbated by an increased prevalence of Covid-19. The current levels of infection in our communities are impacting on our staff availability, either due to Test and Protect isolation requirements or due to illness.
"Our capacity to deliver the full range of services is becoming more challenging each day.
“We have to move back to a position where we protect the most vital of our services. This begins with critical care, emergency admissions and cancer care. Unfortunately, this means that people awaiting care outwith these groups are likely to have a longer wait than any of us would wish.
“We understand that this may cause anxiety and upset among patients who have been waiting for operations, and we never make any decision to postpone surgery lightly. We apologise to all patients who we have had to reschedule for their operation.
“We hope the public understand the position we find ourselves in. Our colleagues are working so hard to ensure the people who have the greatest level of need receive the care and support they require.
"We have explored options for mutual aid to relieve some of the pressure on the system. However, these pressures are being felt across the wider NHS Scotland services.
“Our workforce has been very flexible in responding to the demands the services have been managing over recent weeks and months. We are extremely grateful to them for their ongoing hard work and delivery of high-quality patient care, and we know the vast majority of the public share our gratitude to them.”
There were 90 positive tests for Covid-19 in Caithness during the latest seven-day period recorded by Public Health Scotland.
The figures were based on people tested from September 1-7.
The national agency's interactive dashboard has a map giving the number of positive cases in specific Scottish neighbourhoods, seven of which are in Caithness.
There were 21 positive cases in the Caithness North West neighbourhood over the seven-day period, 14 each in Thurso West and Wick South, and 13 each in Caithness South and Thurso East. Wick North had 11 cases, while there were four in Caithness North East.
Public Health Scotland reported 1432 positive cases in the Highland local authority area during the seven-day period. The region's seven-day positive rate per 100,000 population was 608.2.