Loss of surgeons is ‘a significant worry’

The departure of the only two surgeons at the Western Isles Hospital in Stornoway has “caused significant worry to local residents”, the Scottish Government’s Health Secretary, Humza Yousaf, has been told.
The hospital already relies heavily on locums.The hospital already relies heavily on locums.
The hospital already relies heavily on locums.

Highlands and Islands Conservative MSP, Donald Cameron, has written to Mr Yousaf after the Gazette revealed two weeks ago that both surgeons are expected to leave by the end of the year and the hospital will become dependent on locum cover.

A report to a recent on-line meeting of the Western Isles NHS Board warned that “potential outcomes include an impact on patient/staff experience”.

There are also financial implications for the Board of hiring locums at “high cost” agency rates.

In the letter, Mr Cameron told the Health Secretary: “As I am sure you will appreciate, this will be of significant worry to local residents, and while I recognise this is an operational matter for NHS Western Isles, every ounce of support should be offered from the Scottish Government to help the health board find permanent, locally-based replacements as soon as possible.

“Therefore, I would like to know what assistance, if any, has the Scottish Government and NHS Scotland offered to NHS Western Isles in this matter and if are there any funding schemes in place to help secure locally-based permanent replacements?”

In response to inquiries from the Gazette, a spokesperson for the Western Isles NHS Board replied that there was “a natural turnover of staff and a consultant workforce made up of both substantive and locum staff.”

The statement added: “We have arrangements in place to ensure that there is cover when these staff members move on to new roles.

“We are advertising for permanent consultant general surgeons, and are also collaborating with NHS Education Scotland (NES) in a rural surgical fellowship programme”.

This programme, which was introduced last year, is designed to allow newly qualified surgeons “to gain appropriate knowledge and skills to practice in a rural general hospital in the north of Scotland – Orkney, Shetland, Caithness, Elgin, Western Isles, Fort William or Oban.