The north’s biggest hospital was thrown into chaos yesterday after a basement flood led to its computer system being shut down.
About 30 operations and up to 60 other procedures were cancelled at Raigmore Hospital in Inverness – and further disruption was expected today.
A large build-up of rain water on a flat roof on Sunday night and Monday morning led to a leak into a basement room where many of the hospital’s computer servers were located.
The servers were switched off for electrical safety reasons, with NHS Highland resorting to “paper-based” contingency plans instead.
While most clinical appointments were unaffected and emergency operations went ahead, about 30 elective operations had to be cancelled, as well as many endoscopy appointments.
Last night, NHS Highland apologised to patients and said the majority of the systems had now been restored.
Dr Ken McDonald, associate medical director at Raigmore Hospital, said: “Rainwater has come through a flat roof which has flooded the basement area which housed our computer IT servers. A decision was made to shut these down due to electrical safety.
“This has impacted on a number of computer and telephone systems which has made it difficult for medical and nursing teams in accessing X-ray and lab reports.
“Unfortunately we have had to cancel some operations and clinic appointments as a result of this.
“This has been a major team effort from our technical colleagues, estates department, staff in labs and our duty manages, nurse managers and the hospital controller.”
He added: “We have seen a gradual improvement over the day and I would anticipate that we will not have as much disruption tomorrow as we have had today.
“I would like to apologise to our patients for the inconvenience and we will reschedule their appointment or procedure as soon as we can.”
The health board said safety was not compromised as a result of the problem and urged patients to attend scheduled appointments unless contacted by staff.
Highlands and Islands Labour MSP David Stewart said: “I’ll be interested to hear what caused this flooding but I am sure front-line staff will be doing all that they can to mitigate the effect on patients.
“I totally sympathise with those affected and sincerely hope that people going for surgery or outpatients appointments will find minimum disruption.
“The weather was quite severe at the weekend and increasing rainfall and changes to rainfall patterns mean, unfortunately, we will be hit by more flooding in the future, causing more damaged to property and disruption to services.”
It emerged earlier this year that NHS Highland is hoping to secure £76million for a major “redevelopment” of the ageing Raigmore Hospital over the next decade.
A further £12.5million has been set aside to instal new cladding on the main tower block between 2019 and 2022.
The proposed revamp at Raigmore would represent the biggest investment at the site since it was built, with the modern buildings dating back to 1980.
The money – which would be subject to a bid to the Scottish Government – is in addition to a £28million upgrade of critical care wards currently under way at the hospital, and a new £27million elective treatment centre planned for Inverness Campus.