NHS Western Isles has delayed several non-urgent care appointments due to sustained pressure on services.
Alongside its response to the Covid pandemic, the health board has been delivering its full range of services over the last year.
However, due to sustained pressure and a building backlog of people needing NHS support on the remote islands the health board has had to take the difficult decision.
The health board has decided to delay a number of non-urgent planned care episodes and appointments.
This is to allow health and social care services to respond effectively to urgent, cancer and unplanned care.
‘Reluctant decision’ and ‘unfortunately necessary’
Services will shift focus for a temporary period to the most in need of urgent care as Scotland prepares for a cold winter.
It also follows on from NHS Highland being forced to cancel “urgent operations” due to the ongoing crisis in the NHS to tackle both the pandemic and the backlog.
NHS Western Isles has been administering Covid booster jabs and has currently jabbed just over 44% of the population.
Patients affected, whose care will be rescheduled, will be contacted individually to advise them of any changes to their appointments.
NHS Western Isles chief-executive Gordon Jamieson said: “Pressure on our services at present is significant and current projections suggest that this demand will continue and increase further through the winter.
“It was therefore necessary to take action to protect our urgent, unplanned and cancer care services and ensure that those who are most unwell receive the services that they need.
NHS Western Isles to delay some non-urgent care on the islands
“This was a reluctant decision but unfortunately necessary in the present circumstances.
“We will resume normal service delivery as soon as possible and would apologise sincerely to anyone that this difficult decision will affect.
“We know that this decision will come as a significant disappointment to some of our patients who are waiting for treatment or a procedure.
“What we can assure is that we will resume full service delivery as soon as we consider that it is safe to do so and this will be reviewed on a weekly basis.”