Nursing changes ‘will put people at risk’

NHS Western Isles has been criticised for the changes.NHS Western Isles has been criticised for the changes.
NHS Western Isles has been criticised for the changes.
Three national organisations representing individuals with complex neurological conditions have joined forces to express deep concern over changes to nursing provision in the islands, which they say will leave the area as the only place in Scotland without dedicated cover.

Senior representatives from Epilepsy Scotland, the MS Society Scotland and Parkinson’s UK Scotland have written to the Gazette urging on the NHS Western Isles to reconsider its position.

A crucial meeting was due to take place last night (Wednesday) to discuss the issue.

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The Gazette contacted the health board on Tuesday, but as we went to press yesterday (Wednesday) no statement or explanation had been provided.

In an article for the Gazette, Morna Simpkins, Director, MS Society Scotland; Lesslie (corr) Young, Chief Executive Epilepsy Scotland, and James Jopling, Country Director Scotland Parkinson's UK, say the health board plan to “replace a full-time MS nursing post and a part-time Epilepsy nursing post with an Advanced Clinical Nurse Specialist, Neurology”.

“The health board have claimed that the appointment of the Advanced Clinical Nurse Specialist, Neurology will not represent a downgrading of service for patients with neurological conditions,” they said. “This position is not credible.

“This post is not only expected to support people living with the aforementioned conditions, but also people living with a range of other neurological conditions such as headaches. This change will put people at risk. There are a number of treatment options for conditions such as Epilepsy, MS and Parkinson’s.

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“All of these treatments come with their own risk profiles and monitoring requirements. This requires detailed understanding on the part of the nurse to offer support in choosing the right treatment option and to monitor the progress of the treatment effectively to prevent an adverse reaction occurring. Moving away from specialist nurse provision dilutes specialist knowledge across a range of very different conditions and medications.”

Highland MSPs Rhoda Grant and Donald Cameron have now written to the health board seeking an explanation.