‘Significant pressures’ caused by continued increase in Covid cases

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NHS Highland chiefs are urging people to remain vigilant as one hospital in the area reaches capacity amid a continued rise in Covid-19 cases.

Raigmore Hospital in Inverness is currently at ‘code black’ status, as ‘unprecedented levels of demand’ impact health and social care services across the Highlands and Argyll and Bute.

Medical, surgical and clinical support teams are meeting regularly to agree the actions that must be taken to reduce the pressure on services within the hospital, ensuring patients can be treated ‘appropriately and compassionately’.

All non-urgent elective surgery has been cancelled. Cancer and urgent cases will continue and, where possible, orthopaedic and day case work will also carry on.

Outpatient activity, with the exception of cancer, urgent, allied health professional and diagnostics, has also been cancelled allowing staff to be released to support other services.

‘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,’ said Dr Boyd Peters, medical director for NHS Highland. ‘We are very sorry 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 rapid spread of Covid-19 is believed to be a result of the Delta variant and the health board is now seeing cases in areas that were previously unaffected.

This is impacting on the most vulnerable as there are now outbreaks of the virus in some care homes.

‘While the contact tracers are working incredibly hard, the very high case numbers means it is taking longer for us to contact cases,’ said Dr Tim Allison, NHS Highland’s director of public health.

‘If you have tested positive, you will receive an email with a form to complete. While rates are so high, we would be very grateful if you could fill this in and return this to the health protection team.

‘Early experience has demonstrated that we can double the number of cases that can be contact traced per day by doing this and are asking for your help with this.

‘We would also like to thank the public for everything they are doing to try to reduce the spread within their communities and would urge caution with rising rates of Covid-19.’

People are being advised to continue following FACTS:

  • Wear a face covering
  • Avoid crowded places
  • Maintain two-metre distance
  • Self-isolate and book a test if you have symptoms

Although the typical symptoms of Covid-19 are a new continuous cough, a high temperature or fever and a loss of, or change in, normal taste or smell, some people experience other symptoms including headache, sore muscles and joints, tiredness, sore throat, cold-like symptoms, diarrhoea and vomiting.

If you or anyone in your family becomes unwell, you should isolate immediately and seek a PCR test by booking an appointment through NHS Inform online or by calling 0800 028 2816.