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Nwicker60
11-Dec-12, 10:22
Joint discussions on county blueprint

AN ongoing review of health and care services for older adults across Caithness took another positive step forward last week.
Forty-seven representatives of local communities, the voluntary sector and NHS Highland gathered in the Ross Institute in Halkirk on Friday to discuss the future shape of local services.
David Flear, one of the public members on the newly-established Highland Health and Social Care Committee, opened the event by saying: “Today is about us coming together to discuss what outcomes are required for local people in the future.”
In the lead-up to the event, feedback had been gathered from groups who access services for older adults. Local GPs also highlighted a number of key areas they felt needed strengthening, including community services for frail and older people, palliative care and better working across hospital and community settings.
During the day, there was discussion on what services currently exist and on gaps in service.
And a vote on what people thought the number one priority was highlighted the need to develop community services such as home care and anticipatory care.
Those present were told by Dr Paul Davidson, Clinical Director for NHS Highland’s North and West area, that any changes to services would bring overall improvements and would be “sympathetic”.
Information was presented by local NHS staff on predicted changes to the population, finances and the condition of NHS property in Caithness.
This year. 34 million was spent on services provided by NHS Highland in Caithness, with over one-third (12.7 million) being spent on Caithness General Hospital.
Although there are some challenges in maintaining some of the buildings which provide services, it was noted that there had been significant investment, including 3.5 million to the Dunbar site. The most pressing building issues are the current state of the building where the Physiotherapy Department is located in Dunbar and the ability to upgrade the Queen Elizabeth Wing at Caithness General in its current format.
There was widespread positive reaction to last week’s event by some of those who attended.
Councillor Willie MacKay said: “It was a good day, well attended. They had clearly made an effort to make sure enough of the right people and groups came along, so there was a good mixture of health and social services staff as well as local groups.
“For me, the next step can’t come quickly enough. I think we are all mindful of the need to change for the future. So what I would like to see that when we build future services it will be for need’s sake rather than wanting.”
Niall Smith, of Caithness Voluntary Group, commented: “The whole day has been very good. I actually felt I had a full opportunity to engage. There was a lot of energy in the room and lots of desire to from everyone to work constructively together.”
Liz Smith, an experienced lay member on NHS groups, said: “My plea is to now move on quickly. I was pleased to hear that the top priority identified was that more needs to be done to strengthen community services. And, before any thoughts of changing what is done in hospitals, alternative services must be in place and working.”
Andrea Madden, Community Development Officer for Caithness and Sutherland, and one of the day’s facilitators, said: “I think we can make real progress. There are some things that we can just crack on with but other things will take a bit longer. Setting the right pace is going to be important and being able to explain the vision for future services is critical.”
Mr Flear added: “I really do feel a learning process has taken place about how we need to set about engaging with local people about making changes to services. We have a collective responsibility to get this right.
“I would like to see a follow-up event fairly soon where we can start to clearly set out a vision, what the practical next steps are and the range of ways that people can get involved.“