Barra patients transferred to Stornoway

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NO patients have been admitted to St Brendan’s Hospital on Barra since Thursday due to an unusually high number of staff being off sick.

NHS Western Isles took the decision last week that anyone requiring to be admitted to St Brendan’s would instead transfer to Western Isles Hospital in Stornoway.

The situation is to be reviewed today (Monday) although staffing levels are deemed satisfactory for the current inpatient population.

Nigel Hobson, Interim Nurse Director/ Chief Operating Officer at NHS Western Isles said: “With patient safety as our main priority, we have taken the decision to temporarily transfer any new patients requiring admission to hospital, to Western Isles Hospital. Pre-existing contingency arrangements for patients who are acutely ill or require transfer for specialist care remain in place, and there is no change to these arrangements.”

Temporary arrangements have also been made to cover the absence of midwifery staff on Barra.

There are no women on the island near their expected delivery date and expectant mothers have been informed of the present arrangements, said NHS Western Isles today.

Should advice be required, this will be available over the phone 24/7 from Western Isles Hospitael or from Uist midwives. A GP with obstetric experience is also available on the island if needed and any expectant woman requiring emergency care would be airlifted to another hospital, as is normal practice.

Mr Hobson added: ““The current situation is challenging, but the temporary arrangements in place in Barra will ensure that the safety of patients is maintained. Arrangements for acutely ill patients remain as normal. The situation is being closely monitored and normal service will be resumed as soon as possible.”

Western Isles MP Angus MacNeil raised concerns about the lack of midwifery cover some time ago and this week he has once again been in contact with the health board about the staff shortages.

“This is causing many in Barra a lot of concern that since Thursday no admissions can be made. I have also raised with NHS Western isles again the absence of midwifery cover on the island and I have been assured that temporary arrangements have been put in place.”

He added: “NHS Western Isles will reassess the situation again but I hope that whatever happens the local health board will put a contingency plan in place to ensure that if this situation happens again, they will provide 24 hour cover at the hospital to ensure that there is no need to fly patients to other hospitals, the worrying fact about this is that the nearest hospital for admissions is Stornoway which is 150 miles away.”