The chairs of NHS Highland and NHS Western Isles have paid tribute to the efforts being made by staff and communities in their region.
NHS Highland chair Professor Boyd Robertson and vice-chair Ann Clark thanked the public for following the rules required to stop the spread of coronavirus.
“On behalf of every one of NHS Highland’s 10,500 health and social care staff, the board would like to thank the people and communities we serve for following the national guidance on social distancing and staying at home to protect our staff and save lives,” their joint statement said.
“It is clear that the guidance the public has been observing has reduced the impact of Covid-19 on our communities, families, friends and colleagues.
“Sadly, this is not the case for everyone. Our hearts go out to those families who have not been able to say goodbye to a loved one in the way they would have wished, in whatever circumstances their loved one was lost.
“Our preparations for the Covid-19 pandemic means that it has been necessary to pause all non-essential treatment.
“We would like to apologise to any of our patients who have had long awaited appointments cancelled and whose treatment may be impacted by this highly infectious disease.
“However, we want to emphasise that anyone who is worried about their mental or physical health should still use primary care and emergency services. GP practices, pharmacists, and all of our emergency services are working incredibly hard together to maintain these essential services.
“The Government has announced a further three weeks of ‘lockdown’ and it is vital that we all persist with what we have been doing. The virus continues to claim the lives of grandparents, mothers and fathers, sons and daughters, sisters and brothers.
“Staying home as much as possible, keeping our distance and washing our hands will play a part in helping to keep our communities safe and protect the vital services we depend upon in these extraordinary times.
Ian Burgess, the chair of Western Isles Health Board, said islanders were showing they could rise to the challenge.
He said: “It is with the deepest gratitude that I send this message to all the frontline and key staff working in the NHS, care homes, third sector, volunteers, our partner emergency services and all who continue to support our island infrastructure at this time of Covid-19.”
Mr Burgess, who is chairman of the region’s Integrated Joint Board – a partnership of council and health services – also paid tribute to former chief operating officer Ron Culley, who has moved back to Glasgow.
He added: “I would like to pay tribute to our social care staff, community and volunteer organisations who are contributing in keeping us all safe from the virus. I thank the staff of our care homes who are keeping our residents safe from harm.
“We have always been a community that has risen to a challenge, ensuring our way of life and unique communities will come through this together.”