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The growing number of people needing urgent care at hospitals in the Western Isle is leading - again - to the cancellation or postponement of less urgent medical work. 

For many months now, NHS Western Isles has been delivering its full range of services alongside continuing to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Due to current sustained demand across the Health and Social care system, NHS Western Isles, in its efforts to respond effectively to urgent, cancer and unplanned care, has taken the difficult decision to reschedule a number of non-urgent planned care episodes and appointments. Care and services for a temporary period will focus on and prioritise those who are most unwell and requiring urgent care.  

Areas where rescheduling will take place include Outpatient Clinics, and some planned surgery. 

Patients affected, whose care will be rescheduled, will be contacted individually to advise them of any changes to their appointments.

If you have an appointment and are not contacted to reschedule, your appointment will go ahead as planned.  

NHS Western Isles Chief Executive Gordon Jamieson said: “Pressure on our services at present is significant and current projections suggest that this demand will continue and increase further through the winter.  

“It was therefore necessary to take action to protect our urgent, unplanned and cancer care services and ensure that those who are most unwell receive the services that they need. This was a reluctant decision but unfortunately necessary in the present circumstances.  

“We will resume normal service delivery as soon as possible and would apologise sincerely to anyone that this difficult decision will affect. We know that this decision will come as a significant disappointment to some of our patients who are waiting for treatment or a procedure. What we can assure is that we will resume full service delivery as soon as we consider that it is safe to do so and this will be reviewed on a weekly basis.” 

NHS Western Isles reiterates the plea to our communities to ensure that they are mindful of how they use NHS services, in particular using our Emergency Departments (ED) appropriately. Individuals should only attend the ED for conditions that are life threatening. 

Unless your condition is critical, please do not attend an Emergency Department, as you will be directed to another service. If in doubt, please visit NHS Inform or call NHS24 on 111, both in and out of hours. Your GP Practice also remains open during the day for any urgent care needs.  

At the weekend, Professor Tim Spector of the Zoe Covid study, drew attention to the fact that this winter's crisis in the hospitals is largely caused by extra-large numbers of non-Covid-19 patients.

In his weekly talk ( he explained how most of numbers were people seriously ill with other conditions. The charts below show hospital use in England in January 2021 compared to just now.