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Thread: Assurance given on hospital

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2010

    Default Assurance given on hospital

    Caithness General safe despite consultant's gala week concerns about its future
    NHS HIGHLAND has made it clear that the future of Caithness General Hospital is assured, despite fears by a former consultant that it might be at risk because of a lack of finance and the current climate of cuts.
    Dr Tim Shallcross, who is leaving to take up a post with NHS Grampian, couldn’t have made his surprise claims in a more public arena, appearing as Wick’s gala’s guest speaker, earlier this week.
    He began by paying tribute to the Caithness community for making his family’s 20-year stay in the county “very enjoyable and rewarding” .
    Speaking to a packed Market Square, he went on to express his “real fears” about the future of rural hospitals in general and Caithness General in particular.
    Dr Shallcross described the hospital as being “far from perfect” but said it was one which the community could be proud and provided a very good service. Sustaining such units, however, was becoming more expensive than the big city hospitals to run and he continued: “I am far from convinced that there is a commitment in the health department to pay what it would take, to maintain the service, which would mean spending money. There is extreme pressure to reduce costs and this will probably be packaged and sold to you as a service redesigning or streamlining the service, or simply making the best use of resources. It won’t be call downgrading”.
    Dr Shallcross warned the community that it would have to be vigilant and he referred to its campaigning success in winning a reprieve for the retention of the consultant-led maternity unit at Caithness General in 2006, and suggested that if local folk closed rank, again, and stood together, they could prove an effective force.
    He added: “I hope I am wrong, but I fear your local hospital may need your support in the near future.”
    Sheena Macleod, general manager for the North Highland Community Health Partnership (CHP) said that it, along with the rest of NHS Highland, were “absolutely committed” to providing a safe, high quality, service to their patients, as close to their homes as possible, while making the most efficient use of resources.”
    Sheena Macleod said that rural hospitals, like Caithness General, were protected from closure and must have a range of consultant services provided. She added: “The services they provide must be safe of good quality and be sustainable.”
    Over the past few years, the North Highland Community Health Partnership (CHP) was facing the same financial pressures as the rest of NHS Highland and other health boards across Scotland. While the Government’s funding to the NHS was not being cut, it would not keep pace with health service inflation, increasing drug costs, new technology and increasing demands for service.
    Mrs Macleod continued: “However, we need to reduce waste and to be more efficient, so that we are able to live within the funding we receive, and make further improvements to benefit more patients. To do this, we will need to redesign services and streamline what we do, but there is total commitment to having a good quality sustainable service at Caithness General.
    She explained that there are already a number of improvements being carried out by staff which have led to a change in the way they work, meaning that services have become more streamlined and have helped reduce waiting times for diagnostic examinations, as well as helping in reducing the length of time patients stay in hospital.
    Mrs Macleod added: “Providing a safe service and environment is at the heart of what we do and you have only to visit Caithness General to see the improvements made in terms of reducing the number of healthcare associated infections, the cleanliness of the hospital and an enhancement of the general environment”.
    She paid tribute to all Dr Shallcross’s hard work and wished him all the best in his new post in Elgin.
    CHP is actively looking to recruit a replacement and,until a successful appointment is made, the service will be support by locum consultants.
    Mrs Macleod warned, however, that there were particular difficulties in recruiting medical staff both consultant and junior doctors and predicted that this would become more challenging in the years to come.
    She added: “We will have to change our model of care and consider alternative staffing models to provide a safe and skilled workforce.”
    Last edited by Nwicker60; 29-Jul-11 at 18:10.

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