A ward which houses elderly mental health patients at a Highland hospital has been closed to new admissions amid a staffing crisis.
Migdale Hospital in Bonar Bridge, which comprises 22 beds and two wards, has been closed its Strathy ward temporarily as NHS Highland deals with issues relating to staff being on sick leave and vacancies going unfilled.
The hospital, which opened in 2011 at a cost of £8 million, can house up to 10 older adult mental health patients in the affected ward.
The health board has said that “every effort has been made to obtain registered mental health nursing cover” which has included staff members working additional hours, but there has been little success in finding the cover required.
Lorraine Coe, District Manager for NHS Highland said: “To ensure that patients requiring this level of care are cared for safely and effectively a decision has been made to close the ward to new admissions until we are confident that staffing levels are where they need to be.
“This will mean that older patients who are requiring inpatient mental health care will need to be admitted to New Craigs Hospital in Inverness.”
She added that families of patients are being informed with “every effort” being made to “recruit to the vacant posts in order to get the ward back to being operational”.
NHS Highland has said that it will review the situation on a daily basis and that discussions are “ongoing” into “how challenges in recruitment to this particular area can be addressed”.