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'Come clean' over Covid impact plea to NHS Highland from Easter Ross mum after son's 11th-hour operation cancellation

By Louise Glen

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NHS Highland has acknowledged staff are under great pressure.
NHS Highland has acknowledged staff are under great pressure.

PARENTS of an Easter Ross child whose operation was cancelled at the 11th hour are calling on NHS Highland to "come clean" over their predicament amid the knock-on impact of a rise in Covid cases.
An Invergordon mum spoke after an ear, nose and throat appointment to help her six-year-old son breathe more easily was cancelled by phone at 9pm the day before the appointment – after he had gone to bed.

She said that while her son, and family, were devastated by the late call-off, it paled into insignificance given the huge volume of people waiting to be dealt with.

The mum, who did not want to be named to protect her child, said he went to bed believing that his breathing problems would be sorted the following day but is still waiting to find out when the operation might actually take place.

She said: "My little boy has been through a number of unpleasant pre-operation procedures, not least the need to self-isolate and take Covid tests, and it turns out his operation was not going ahead. It is terrible that I was only contacted the night before.

"For us, in spite of this being an urgent operation, I appreciate that there are people who are much worse off than we are.It seems to be that there are not enough staff for critical care patients and staff are being taken from elsewhere to try and fill the gaps.

"There appear to be a large number of vacancies at the hospital. I imagine that people are simply exhausted with all they have had to put up with over the last year and they are desperate to get back to working 'normal' hours.There is no wiggle room any more. So the system is struggling."
She added: "I will be extremely disappointed if all the people who have operations next week are taken before those of us who had operations this week.NHS Highland needs to come clean and tell us what is really happening."

Raigmore Hospital had been on a 'code black' for a week in July, indicating it had reached capacity.

A spokesman for NHS Highland said: "NHS Highland’s clinical emergency pathways have been under significant pressure across primary and secondary care. As a result of these pressures we are struggling to keep pace all the services we are currently aiming to deliver to as a part of the remobilisation of planned elective care. As a result, some elective work has had to be postponed. We wish to apologise to all patients who we have had to reschedule for their operations.

"The pressure on services has not gone away and is still being felt right across our health and social care system. Emergency admission levels at the hospital remain high and everything is being done to facilitate our elective programme continuing. However, looking at the rising prevalence of Covid-19 there are significant risks to the elective programme over the next few weeks."

He added: "We are actively looking at ways we can continue to deliver elective and emergency care and minimise the risk of any further cancellations."

Code black declared as Raigmore hits capacity

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