Various NHS Highland sites face temporary admission restrictions due to staffing pressures.
A ward at Lawson Memorial Hospital in Golspie is the latest to go under temporary restriction, with similar measures being carried out at Portree on Skye and New Craigs Hospital in Inverness.
Extreme staffing concerns have meant restricting in-patients admissions as a temporary measure to ensure staff can deliver a safe level of care.
The board is pushing forward with major service change programmes underway in Badenoch & Strathspey, Skye, Lochalsh and South West Ross, Lochaber and now Caithness in order to provide a safe, sustainable service in the future.
While these wide-ranging reviews are a step in the right direction the board is preparing to carry out a hospital bed strategy across Highland.
Senior charge nurse, Joanne Gemmill, said: “Despite being fragile, we have been actively managing the staffing situation over recent weeks to ensure all shifts were safely covered. Unfortunately, more essential staff have gone on sick leave this week and we have exhausted all options to cover these additional shifts.
“Because of that, it is with regret that we have decided that there is no option but to temporarily close to admissions at Cambusavie in order to ensure we can safely provide care to the current patients within the ward.
“I would like to reiterate that this is a temporary measure and is solely in response to the staffing shortages. We will be monitoring the situation daily from Monday and, with job application interviews pending, we do expect that we will be able to resume admitting patients in the near future.
“I also want to reassure everyone that we have managed to ensure safe staffing levels for the current patients within the unit and we are reviewing the staffing requirements continuously.”
In recent months NHS Highland has experienced extreme staffing pressures which have led to an unprecedented amount of unplanned temporary closures to hospital admissions across Highland.
Michelle Johnstone, NHS Highland’s area manager north: “This wide-ranging strategy will start with a review and public consultation in Caithness about in-patient hospital services on three sites. An event to look at the options for Caithness will begin on 28th August 2017.”