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NHS Highland cancels operations due to coronavirus

By Louise Glen

Raigmore Hospital.
Raigmore Hospital.

A FAMILY say they are angry that urgent cancer surgery was cancelled at Raigmore Hospital in Inverness due to coronavirus.

The operation that was due to take place today was cancelled at the 11th hour and after pre-op checks had been completed.

The patient, an Inverness dentist, who asked not to be named, is said to be frustrated and in pain after waiting almost six months for the operation for suspected ovarian cancer.

Her 23-year-old son said he was appalled at the situation. He said his mum, who is 54, was still waiting to find out when her operation would be.

"My mum was due to go into Raigmore for surgery. She had her pre-op appointment, and everything was confirmed for surgery.

"She was leaving the hospital with my dad when the nursing manger caught up with her, and said she was sorry but due to the global pandemic being declared her operation had to be cancelled."

He claims the nurse manager told his mum that "all general anaesthetic surgery at Raigmore had been cancelled".

He said his mum was shocked and angry because only a few moments before everything had been arranged.

He continued: "My mum first went in September about her symptoms and was told she would have surgery within three months. She waited for three months and as she had not heard anything she went back to her GP. She was then taken as an urgent appointment.

"Every day feels like a day too long for this operation to happen."

He said while everyone was aware that there was a global pandemic with coronavirus, there were no cases in the Highlands.

He said: "It is all very well cancelling the operation, but when will it be done? I highly doubt that things will be better next week. The operation should have been completed."

Doctors throughout the region have asked patients with cold and flu symptoms, or who have visited a number of high-risk countries, not to attend at GP practices and instead phone or call NHS 24 on 111 instead.

One woman, who asked not to be named due to the stigma of people believing she had coronavirus, said: "My husband was very ill when he returned from Pakistan. The GP surgery in Inverness simply refused to see him.

"He was told to stay at home and not to come to the surgery. Eventually, three days later, the GP phoned him and gave him a prescription over the phone. I am very worried about people suffering from something that is not coronavirus, because everyone is panicking."

NHS Highland and Highland Council said they were following national guidance.

NHS Highland’s head of acute services Katherine Sutton said: “There are a number of operations being rescheduled while the hospital is developing its state of readiness in response to the ongoing Covid-19 [coronavirus] situation.

"The decision to cancel any operation is not one that we take lightly and all efforts are made to ensure that any cancellations are kept to a minimum and we apologise to all patients that are affected.

"Any patients that have been cancelled are prioritised and rebooked as quickly as possible."

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