Health chiefs have apologised to the family of a patient after they sent an air ambulance to the wrong Scottish island.

NHS Grampian wrongly dispatched the aircraft to a hospital in Shetland rather than Orkney.

The health board said the March 17 incident happened as a result of an error in the process of transport arrangement.

As well as apologising to the patient's family, NHS chiefs also said sorry to colleagues in the Scottish Ambulance Service for what it described as an "isolated mistake".

An NHS Grampian spokeswoman said: "NHS Grampian would like to apologise unreservedly to the family involved in this incident.

"We would also wish to apologise to our colleagues in the Scottish Ambulance Service.

"Following an initial analysis of the timeline of last Friday's events, it is clear that a member of NHS Grampian staff made an error during the process of arranging transport.

"This led to the Scottish Ambulance Service aircraft wrongly travelling to Shetland.

"We must stress that this is an extremely unusual incident. We have seen nothing to suggest this was anything other than an isolated mistake."

NHS Grampian said it is continuing to investigate further and is in contact with the patient's family to keep them updated. Officials have also offered to meet the patient's family.

The Scottish Ambulance Service said it arrived in Kirkwall, Orkney, after first being sent to Gilbert Bain Hospital in Shetland.

A spokesman said: "We received a request from a member of NHS Grampian staff in Aberdeen at 7.05pm on Friday March 17 to retrieve a patient from hospital in Shetland.

"We dispatched our fixed-wing air ambulance from Aberdeen and it dropped off our team and equipment in Shetland at 9.57pm.

"Shortly after arriving in Shetland, our team was advised that the patient they had been sent to retrieve was actually in Orkney.

"Once we were made aware of the error, our fixed-wing air ambulance returned to Shetland to transfer the team and equipment to Orkney.

"Our aircraft arrived in Kirkwall at 1.44am to retrieve the patient from Balfour Hospital. The patient arrived safely at Aberdeen Maternity Hospital at 4.45am "This is an extremely unusual occurrence and we have been reviewing the circumstances around the initial request with NHS Grampian.

"We have written to the family inviting them to meet with us to discuss the circumstances around the transfer."