PATIENTS face ongoing disruption at least through the rest of this week as work continues to deal with "superficial cracks" discovered in operating theatre walls at Raigmore Hospital.
NHS Highland said last Thursday (February 8) that it was cancelling operations in the wake of the discovery made during ongoing work to upgrade the city hospital’s theatre complex.
Typically carrying out 30-35 fewer serious "elective" operations every day a spokeswoman for the health board said eye and joint operations have been cancelled at Raigmore in the wake of the fault, with others being dealt with at alternative sites in Caithness, Golspie and Fort William where possible.
She said clinical teams were looking at the list of cancelled operations with a view to prioritising how they will be dealt with once the operating theatres come back online, currently expected to be this Monday (February 19).
Estates work was due to finish on Monday of this week with a cleaning plan then set to be put in motion, including air sampling and microbial testing.
"The work being done now should ensure that this will not happen again," she added.
Ron Coggins, clinical director for the surgical division at Raigmore Hospital, previously insisted it was not possible to foresee the latest difficulty, though Highlands and Islands Conservative MSP Edward Mountain branded it "a further unacceptable failure" by the health board.
"They seem to stagger from one problem to another," he said. "One has to wonder what will happen next."
Last month operations were cancelled due to contamination of theatres by dust while in October there were also cancellations after basement flooding knocked out many of the hospital’s computers.
Affected patients have been venting their frustration at the latest difficulties online.
Sharon Cameron said: "One excuse after another – ‘shambles’ comes to mind."
And Paula Polson said: "To say I was less than impressed last week is an understatement… such an inconvenience when you have to take time off work to attend."