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Health / NHS cancels most planned operations this week due to staff sickness

Photo: Shetland News

MOST planned operations at the Gilbert Bain Hospital have been cancelled this week due to staff sickness across a number of teams.

All patients who have been affected have been contacted and NHS Shetland will reschedule their procedures as soon as it can.

NHS Shetland said it will still be able to respond if there is a surgical emergency.

It comes amid reported high levels of Covid and other illnesses in the community, particularly after the recent Up Helly Aa.

Director of nursing and acute services Kathleen Carolan said: “We have considered the need to do this very carefully as we are aware of the impact that it will have on patients who were expecting to have an operation this week, which have been cancelled at short notice.

“We would like to take this opportunity to apologise for the limitations to our planned care service this week.

“We will be keeping all services under review until staff start to return to work and we will provide regular updates on our Facebook page.

“At this time, the out patient department and other services remain unchanged, although there may be longer waits to be seen due to staffing levels.

“We ask that NHS Inform or NHS 24 are used for advice where possible. NHS 24 can provide urgent care and mental health advice 24/7 and can be accessed by phoning 111. The Emergency Department at the Gilbert Bain Hospital is also available 24/7 for medical emergencies.”

Dr Susan Laidlaw, director of public health, said NHS Shetland does not have any community-wide figures for flu and Covid because only high-risk people or those in high-risk settings, such as those in hospital, are tested.

“But by monitoring the number of higher-risk people who have tested positive, and other surveillance, we know that cases in the community have increased,” she said.

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“The national flu surveillance report for the end of January shows that while flu cases started to drop in other parts of Scotland, they were at what is classed as ‘extraordinary’ levels in Shetland.

“We fully expected there to be an increase in cases of flu and Covid at this time of year, as before the pandemic, we saw an increase in the number of cases of flu in most years.

“For most people, flu or Covid infections cause a relatively short-lived illness manageable at home with no medical input needed. We know the risk of serious illness, hospitalisation, and death has significantly reduced in those who have been vaccinated.

“However, there are people who are still vulnerable to serious illness, even if vaccinated, especially among those who are immunosuppressed or elderly. And there are other viruses circulating such as RSV that can cause very serious illness, but there is no vaccination.

“Please take sensible precautions to help reduce the spread of these respiratory viruses, and encourage others to do the same. If you have symptoms, stay at home if you can, or only attend outside events. At the very least, avoid unnecessary contact with folk you know could be vulnerable.

“If you do need to be in contact, limit the amount of time, have good ventilation, wear a mask, wash hands, and practice good respiratory hygiene. Follow the guidance on NHS Inform about dealing with winter illnesses

“If you have not yet had flu and/or Covid vaccination and are eligible, please contact the Vaccination Team at It is still not too late, the programmes will run until March, but the vaccines do take a couple of weeks to be effective.”

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