Acute services in NHS Highland, particularly Raigmore Hospital, remain very busy with a significant number of frail and unwell patients having been admitted over the past few weeks.
Dr Duncan Scott, Consultant Physician and Clinical Director for Medicine with NHS Highland, said:
“We are doing everything we can to effectively treat our patients’ appropriately and compassionately.
“Some, particularly those who have difficulty getting back to their normal level of health, will need more time in hospital or other care settings.
“The length of time a patient is in hospital can be reduced if they can be supported at home and we are working hard to increase care at home capacity.
“We are grateful to those who provide support to relatives at home.”
With acute hospitals in NHS Highland being so busy other facilities within the organisation are being used to help ease some of the pressure.
Dr Scott added:
“We are using all of our healthcare bed resources to allow us to care for patients.
“For some patients this may mean that they may receive their care a bit further from home than usual as patients who are recuperating are moved away from an acute setting to a more appropriate community-based facility.
“Members of the public can also help us in ensuring that they are accessing the right service at the right time.
“It can often be difficult to make the right decision about where to seek help, but there are a number of services that can help support you and advise you where to find more support if necessary.”
Local A&E departments across Highland remain open for those who have a life-threatening emergency.
However, to ensure patients have access to the treatment they need, anyone with a non-life-threatening condition who would usually go to A&E should call NHS 24 on 111 first, day or night, to be directed to the right NHS service.
Your GP practice will also always be able to provide advice on managing acute illness or long-term conditions.
Accident and Emergency (A&E) is not always the right place for the care we need.
If you think you need to go to A&E for care that is not life-threatening, the NHS 24 telephone service on 111 will be available day and night to direct you to the care you need.
People should always contact 999 or go to the nearest A&E department in an emergency.
By doing so, we will continue to help our doctors and nurses through this period and ensure A&E provides the fastest and most appropriate care for people when they really need it.
Community pharmacies and minor injury units are there to help with minor illness or injury, and our emergency departments and the emergency ambulance service are there for the most severe illness and injury.
Dr Emma Watson, Deputy Medical Director (Acute) for NHS Highland, said:
“Please consider which service is best for you and this may help us provide the best service to the population of Highland.
“Unless you have a life-threatening emergency, please call 111 first for advice on the right service to access.
“Our staff are working incredibly hard to provide the best care possible to all those who are unwell and we thank you for your understanding during this time of high demand on our health care system.”