Hospital patients set for transfer due to 'flu pressure'
Some patients at Raigmore Hospital, Inverness will be moved to a Minor Injuries Unit in Dingwall.
Some patients at a hospital under "significant pressure" from flu admissions are to be transferred elsewhere to free up beds.
The Minor Injuries Unit (MIU) at the Ross Memorial Hospital in Dingwall is to temporarily close on Monday for the planned transfer of patients from Raigmore Hospital in Inverness.
NHS Highland said the move is part of its contingency plan to free up bed capacity at Raigmore, which is experiencing significant pressure caused by increasing admissions due to flu.
Latest figures show that the number of people suffering from flu in Scotland has more than doubled compared to the same period last year, increasing pressure on hospitals.
Some health boards have been forced to temporarily postpone elective or non-urgent procedures due to the increased pressure on services.
The MIU in Dingwall, which is normally open from 11am to 3pm Monday to Friday, will be temporarily suspended on Monday.
Chris Arnold, district manager for Easter Ross, said: "The decision to temporarily close the unit has been taken as part of a contingency plan to help the health board cope with the mounting pressures of seasonal illness, including flu.
"The more care we can provide for patients in the community, the less elective procedures will have to be cancelled in Raigmore."
NHS Highland said that staff across the area are working hard to reduce the risk of these viruses spreading within the community and urged members of the public to help prevent their spread.
'The decision to temporarily close the unit has been taken as part of a contingency plan to help the health board cope with the mounting pressures of seasonal illness, including flu.'Chris Arnold, district manager for Easter Ross,
Around 46 Scots in every 100,000 were suffering from flu during the last week in December 2017, up from 22 in every 100,000 for the same week in 2016, according to latest Health Protection Scotland (HPS) data.
Dr Adam Brown, consultant microbiologist for NHS Highland, explained that restrictions have now been put in place across all wards at Raigmore Hospital.
He said: "Visiting within Raigmore Hospital is strictly limited to two people per patient at any one time and we are advising that children under the age of 16 are not brought in to visit patients in hospital.
"We would also advise that, given the high risk of flu, that pregnant women should avoid visiting as well. If you have any respiratory symptoms we would ask that you do not visit any of our hospitals."
NHS Highland said that on Monday, in the case of minor injuries, people should contact their local GP or attend the MIU at the County Community Hospital at Invergordon which is open from 8am to 6pm.
The Out of Hours service can be contacted via NHS 24 on 111 and in the event of an emergency people should dial 999.