Out of Hours assurance

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The Western Isles Health Board have insisted meetings with NHS-24 have helped address issues relating to their out of hours (OOH) provision.

Dr Keith Burns, NHS Western Isles Clinical Lead for Community, told the Gazette this week that he had spoken directly with NHS-24 on specific matters and he believes they have taken on board several of his concerns.

The Western Isles Carers, Users and Supporters Network (WICUSN) this week issued an open letter on the Gazette’s letters page in which they appealed for the WIHB to show they had fulfilled pledges made to address much publicised ‘recent failures.’

In the letter penned by WICUSN chair Jinty Morrison she implores the Chair, Chief Executive and Medical Director of the Western Isles Health Board (WIHB) to keep the public up to date with any steps which are being taken as a consequence of issues arising.

She writes: “In recent weeks two cases highlighting failure of NHS 24 have been reported in your paper and WICUSN would ask those holding these posts of responsibility to inform the public of what steps are being taken by WIHB to address these failures.”

Ms Morrison also refers to specific cases and incidents where she believes the current system operated by WIHB failed island residents requesting clarification on any improvements to be made.

In responding to the points made in the letter, Dr Keith Burns, NHS Western Isles Clinical Lead for Community, said he had raised the case of the Harris patient with NHS 24, adding: “They accepted my point that anyone with symptoms of this nature should be examined and addressed this with the nurse involved as well as reviewing the processing of the call.”

Dr Burns added: “I do not know about the Tolsta case but we have regular meetings with NHS 24 and can provide feedback whenever we need to between meetings.

“Also I complete regular reviews of 12 triage cases which resulted in a home visit and make sure that the triage was appropriate. Any issues I find are raised directly with NHS24.

“We always work closely with NHS 24 to make sure that the OOH process is a safe and timely as possible.

“Recently there have been problems with a new computer system which has been withdrawn after a period where it was found to not be performing well enough with delays to patient care and extra work for some staff.

“During the introduction of the system we participated in regular meetings, daily at one point, to discuss the situation.”

In closing her letter Ms Morrison adds: “WICUSN believes that the Western Isles Health Board has a responsibility to ensure safe delivery of all aspects of health care in the Western Isles and we would ask for a public response from those in these three lead positions in the WIHB to the above as the people of the Islands need to be reassured that if they need help in a medical emergency that help will be promptly delivered.”

This week NHS Western Isles detailed two new developments which they are hopeful can help ease and allay any persisting fears over the out of hours service in some sections of the Harris community.