A shortage of mental health nurses has placed the future of a Sutherland ward in jeopardy.
The Strathy ward in Migdale Hospital Bonar Bridge closed its doors to admissions last month due to the loss of more than five full-time mental health nurses.
As a direct result of those staff shortages, health officials have now confirmed the ward houses “no patients” at all.
Amidst concern from local constituents, Highlands and Islands MSP Rhoda Grant wrote to NHS Highland Chief executive Iain Stewart requesting more information.
Mrs Grant says their repose has painted a “shocking picture” of the shortages being felt in the rural area.
She said: “The small ward cares for ten older adults requiring assessment.
“Having that facility close to home would be a boon for the patients but also for their families and friends.
“It brings home the dire staff shortage and prompts the question of whether facilities such as the Strathy ward can ever reopen without a huge investment in both training and funding.”
The Labour MSP is now writing to Health Secretary Jeane Freeman to ask what steps the Scottish Government is taking to ensure mental health facilities are services are retained and expanded in the region.
A spokesman from NHS Highland said: “Strathy Ward at Migdale Hospital remains closed.
“There is a national shortage of mental health professionals at this time but all efforts are being undertaken to obtain registered mental health nurses both in the short and long-term and we are hopeful we will be able to open the unit in the near future.”