NHS Lothian has advised that operations or ‘elective procedures’ within the clinical specialty of the Department of Clinical Neurosciences, at the Western General Hospital, Edinburgh, will be postponed for the next three days, until Friday.

The decision was taken as a precautionary measure to maintain the highest standards of patient safety while tests are carried out.

This comes after a very small number of patients in a ward were identified with an infection caused by the bacteria Pseudomonas aeruginosa. The cases, which are not linked, continue to be treated and the patients are being monitored very closely. 

The bacteria was identified in a shower and some taps in one area of a ward in the same department. The bacteria is common and rarely affects healthy individuals, but it can be harmful to a small number of patients who are very vulnerable to infection. 

Professor Alex McMahon, Nurse Director, NHS Lothian, said: “A multidisciplinary Incident Management Team (IMT) was immediately established and the decision was taken at its most recent meeting to continue the suspension of procedures until more results were returned.

“We are sincerely sorry to patients and their families for the inconvenience and disruption this will cause. 

“This is a purely precautionary decision, and it may prove to have been unnecessary when all of the results are returned, but patient safety must be the priority. We have contacted all of the affected patients directly and will provide a new appointment for each of them as quickly as possible.

“In the meantime, all necessary infection control measures are in place and the situation will continue to be reviewed and monitored very closely.”