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Patients in Strathspey told orthopaedic elective surgery at NHS Highland is 'suspended' for August


By Louise Glen

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Raigmore Hospital, NHS Highland.
Raigmore Hospital, NHS Highland.

PATIENTS waiting for elective orthopaedic surgery will have longer to wait, after the health board cancelled operations for the rest of the month.

NHS Highland said its clinical emergency "pathway" is under significant pressure across primary and secondary care.

There are around 2,400 people waiting for elective surgery in the Highlands.

NHS Highland said that as a result of pressure in its clinical emergency response it is struggling to keep pace with all the services it is currently aiming to deliver, as a part of the remobilisation of planned elective care.

Katherine Sutton, chief officer for acute services, said: “Within acute services we have had to act to relieve some of this pressure, both immediately and with rapid but sustainable measures to improve the situation.

“Our immediate action must focus on the safety of the patients in the hospital and has therefore led to a pause in elective activity including orthopaedic patients who require an inpatient bed as part of their care.

“We have taken the decision to pause the orthopaedic elective programme through August. This will free up beds allowing us to meet the demand we need for our emergency patients and by changing the space within the hospital we will be able to create additional bed capacity within medicine.

“Our response to this situation will also focus on improved staff recruitment to increase the bed numbers available within the hospital to ensure that emergency patients can be accommodated without impacting on our remobilisation of the planned elective program which aims to deliver services to our longest waiting patients.”

Mrs Sutton continued: “This is a very difficult decision which has not been taken lightly.

"We know it will be extremely disappointing to patients who have been waiting too long for their orthopaedic operations, often in pain, and to our colleagues in orthopaedics who are determined to help their patients.

She added: “We know that GP colleagues will also be concerned about the impact on their patients.

"We are working rapidly to stabilise this situation and wish to apologise to all patients who have been affected by this recent decision to pause our elective orthopaedic operations. We plan to reinstate orthopaedic operating from the 30 August."

All patients are being contacted to advise them of the rescheduling of their operations. If you are not contacted about your procedure please turn up as scheduled.

“Patients affected will also be given access to a freephone helpline - 0800 0280492 open from Monday – Friday 9am to 5pm.

“We would like to take this opportunity to acknowledge the hard work and commitment of our teams, for this we are extremely grateful and recognise the significant asks made of them as we continue to work with the ongoing pressures,” she said.

READ: 'A reminder that this virus is still here and can still do damage': public health director Dr Tim Allison urges caution in Inverness-shire as Covid restrictions relaxed


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