Healthcare in the Uists set for change

A number of developments to modernise healthcare services in the Uists are currently being considered and progressed, including providing additional advanced training for staff to enhance skills, taking steps to make best use of space in the hospital in response to patient need, and considering the relocation of Uist dental services to Ospadal Uibhist agus Bharraigh in Benbecula.

Consideration has already been given to what steps could be taken to create a more modern and sustainable service in Ospadal Uibhist agus Bharraigh (OUaB), as well as taking steps to consider what could improve nursing recruitment to the area, which has been an ongoing issue.

NHS Western Isles recently took the decision to provide advanced training for nurses, and develop a more attractive career structure within the hospital, by providing an increased proportion of more senior and advanced nursing posts.

Significant work has been undertaken to scope hospital activity (including bed occupancy), to ensure that space in the hospital is used as efficiently as possible.

The plan is therefore to staff the hospital for 16 patients, which is the average annual occupancy. There would be flexibility to increase the bed number to 20, if required at peak times, and the new staffing model would support this.

By fitting inpatient services to reflect patient need, there will be scope to make best use of staff skills and time, and space within the hospital.

Current considerations include the relocation of dental services from locations in Lochmaddy, Liniclate and Lochboisdale to the central location of Ospadal Uibhist agus Bharraigh.

This could reduce professional isolation, improve recruitment and retention, reduce multiple running costs and the costs of instruments, and provide enhanced opportunities for staff development and training. Within the current dental clinics, renovation would be required to meet current standards – in particular Lochboisdale Dental Clinic, which requires significant renovation. All current clinics offer little scope for any increase in size of clinical accommodation to meet standards.

Centralising the service in OUaB would enable NHS Western Isles to provide high quality services from one location, with scope for future improvements.

The local community will be consulted on the proposals to relocate dental services, prior to any decisions taking place. This will be advertised in due course.