Sitting in their gown outside theatre at Raigmore hospital, one patient was certain their procedure would finally go ahead.
However, they were wrong.
With Covid rates rocketing across the country, hospitals are struggling to work through the backlog of procedures that has built up throughout the pandemic alongside constant new admissions.
Despite being fully prepped for theatre, a patient who was due to have a procedure at Raigmore hospital this week was turned away at the very last minute.
The patient, who wishes to remain anonymous, said: “I was told two weeks ago that my surgery was ring-fenced no matter what. I went in, pre-opped, drugs the whole lot, got my goonie on and everything.
“They called me down, said the surgeon was ready for me, sat outside theatre for an hour, the surgeon then came out and said ‘sorry, can’t do the operation, our management have cancelled it because of Covid.'”
“We’ll give you a sandwich and a cup of coffee”
Further confusion arose from the fact that the procedures that were scheduled before theirs went ahead as planned.
They said: “I was third on the list, the first two were done, then the surgeon came out and said ‘they’ve cancelled my list.'”
This was the second time the procedure had been cancelled last minute, and both times they had been self-isolating in preparation to head into hospital.
There has been no talk of a reschedule this time, however, with the surgeon’s list now full.
Instead, the patient was sent home with no further information.
They said: “They said ‘we’ll give you a sandwich and a cup of coffee’ but that’s it.”
Given the urgent nature of the procedure they are waiting for, the patient pressed for more information on when they might be able to have it.
They said: “He said his list was full for the future, and I said ‘so I’m not on a list now?’ and he said ‘yes, that’s right, I can’t bump anyone else off to put you on.'”
“Under significant pressure”
NHS Highland, who run Raigmore hospital, have responded to the cancellation of procedures across the region but did not comment on the prevalence of the virus in Raigmore.
A spokesman said: “NHS Highland’s clinical emergency pathways have been under significant pressure across primary and secondary care. As a result of these pressures we are struggling to keep pace all the services we are currently aiming to deliver as a part of the remobilisation of planned elective care.
“As a result, some elective work has had to be postponed. We wish to apologise to all patients who we have had to reschedule for their operations.
“The pressure on services has not gone away and is still being felt right across our Health and Social Care system. Emergency admission levels at the hospital remain high and everything is being done to facilitate our elective programme continuing.
“However, looking at the rising prevalence of Covid -19 there are significant risks to the elective programme over the next few weeks.”
NHS Highland are advising that anyone impacted by cancelled procedures contacts their feedback team, adding: “We are actively looking at ways we can continue to deliver elective and emergency care and minimise the risk of any further cancellations.
“We would encourage the patient to contact our feedback team to enable us to discuss their case in more detail.”