NHS Highland, similar to the rest of Scotland, has seen an increase in the number of flu cases being treated within its hospitals over the weekend with Raigmore Hospital in Inverness under significant pressure.
Steps are being taken to minimise admissions as much as possible and reduce footfall into the hospital.
Dr Ken McDonald, associate medical director for Raigmore Hospital, explained that emergency and urgent work will be prioritised within the hospital.
He said: “We’ve seen an increase in the number of cases of flu coming into hospital which is placing us under significant pressure.
“All activity scheduled to take place in the hospital will be reviewed by a small group of senior clinicians inorder to prioritise emergency and urgent cases. As a result we will unfortunately have to postpone some elective surgery.
“These are not decisions that we take lightly but we need to manage these pressures to ensure we are able to provide care safely. We acknowledge the disruption this will cause for some patients and apologise for the postponement of these procedures.”
Bed use across all hospitals is also being looked at so people may find that they are being admitted elsewhere in Highland or transferred to another hospital before being discharged home.
Members of the public are again being asked to play their part with a suspension of all visiting across Raigmore Hospital now in place unless under special circumstances and with the agreement of the nurse in charge. We would also ask that children under the age of 16 should refrain from visiting anyone in hospital at this current time.
Dr Adam Brown, consultant microbiologist for NHS Highland, said: “The visiting measures we have put in place have helped but we have seen an increase in the number of cases of flu within Raigmore and we also have evidence of flu being passed from visitor to patient.
“Staff across NHS Highland are working very hard to reduce the risk of these infections spreading across the hospital and we continue to appeal for support from the public to help with this.
“We have now put in place a temporary suspension of visiting for all non essential visitors to help us protect our patients and reduce, as much as possible, the risk of flu spreading across the hospital.
“If you have any respiratory symptoms we would also ask that you do not visit any of our hospitals.
“We are grateful for the support staff across all our hospitals in NHS Highland are receiving from the public at the moment and appreciate everyone’s understanding and cooperation at this time.”
The temporary suspension of visiting will be reviewed at the end of this week.
Patients in hospital can also keep in touch with loved ones via phone as the Hospedia system by patient beds can dial free to 01, 02 and 03 numbers.