A Caithness hospital will stay open, according to NHS Highland, despite fears it would close for good this week.
The Dunbar Hospital in Thurso is due to discharge its only patient within the next few days.
The move had sparked concerns that it was about to shut its inpatient service.
But the health board has moved to offer assurance that the hospital will remain open – though they admitted they continue to suffer “extreme staffing pressures”.
This has led to the number of patients the hospital is able to take being limited to allow the minor injury unit to remain open permanently.
Dr Alison Brooks, clinical lead for the Dunbar and local GP said: “Currently there is one in-patient who is planned to be discharged next week.
“We will continue to use the beds appropriately albeit in a limited way as staffing permits.
“While, palliative care patients have been and will continue to be prioritised although the majority are being managed within the community.
“If a hospital bed is required, their GP will consider the most appropriate option, including Dunbar if staffing allows.”
The health board said they will review the limit on admissions after extra staff are put in place, saying there had been a “number of strong applications” for vacant nursing posts.
Dr Brooks said that rumours about the hospital’s future may impact on their ability to recruit.
She said: “It is concerning how quickly rumours start about the Dunbar and most unsettling and upsetting for staff.
“NHS Highland have been clear the future of the Dunbar will be subject to public consultation and have asked clinical staff to start thinking about what future options might be including developing more local services.””
Caithness councillor Matthew Reiss said the hospital was “held in very high regard” locally and said it was natural for people to be concerned about its future.
He said that everyone was working to get the facts about the future of the hospital – but said he wanted to “apologise” if the information he had received was incorrect.
Mr Reiss said: “There is a lot of uncertainty and councillors understand the recruitment problems, which a lot of public sector agencies are also experiencing.
“We had received information that indicated the last patient was due to leave the Dunbar Hospital in the imminent future.
“Obviously the public want the hospital not just to continue but ideally to expand and NHS Highland has said said in the past that is also their aspiration.”