NHS Western Isles reveal improvements to Out of Hours service

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A list of off duty GPs, paramedics and nurse practitioners has been made which will be available when required in Harris during an emergency as one of three improvements to the current Out of Hours service in the area.

Dr Angus McKellar, Medical Director for the Western Isles, confirmed the series of new developments while revealing he has added his own name to the list as an available GP.

He said: “I’m pleased that there was very positive engagement at the meeting of the Harris Locality Planning Group.

“Any change is always difficult for a community and it’s very important that we work together to identify the strengths of the current Out of Hours service (in order to sustain this) and identify areas of concern where improvements may be needed.

“I’m pleased to confirm that three improvements have been agreed and are being pursued. Namely, that a list is being put together of off-duty GPs, paramedics and nurse practitioners who are prepared to be called by the Scottish Ambulance Service in the event of the ambulance being out of area in an emergency.

“I have put my name on that list – as a GP, not Medical Director. The SAS have also confirmed that all Tarbert-based staff – including technicians as well as paramedics – are willing to be called during off-duty periods. I’m delighted with this development.”

NHS Western Isles are confident the new developments should go some way towards helping to ease the concerns in the Harris community.

The health board also felt that the meeting of the Harris Locality Planning Group on Monday night, attended by Christine McKee, Primary Care Manager, had gone well.

Dr McKellar also explained that additional capacity (both GP and Community Unscheduled Care Nurse), in terms of hours of availability, has been in place in the Out of Hours service since the public consultation during the pilot phase. He also details a new initiative to train additional paramedics.

“A third development is that the Scottish Ambulance Service have confirmed they are willing to work with us to train up paramedics in order to provide initial assessments of patients, in necessary, who need to be seen promptly but not as emergencies,” he said.

“This would provide additional capacity and would potentially remove the need for Community Unscheduled Care Nurses to travel down from Stornoway. This is dependent on further training and will take some time to implement.”

Referring to the Out of Hours meeting held in Tarbert Community Centre this week Dr McKellar insisted it was positive.

“Personally, I stay in Harris. I’ve got a great desire to see the community content but I also know what is possible and what is not possible. The community, I think, are beginning to see what’s possible.”

He added: “We have to move on from demands to have what cannot be had and I am really encouraged that the community seem to be starting to see what the limits of possibility are so that we can work together to improve the service.

“The new developments are very positive for the emergency situation, to give reassurance to the community, and I think there’s a definite shift in public engagement.”