Concerns over hospital redesign

Plans to redesign the Uist and Barra Hospital to include local dental and medical practices have been criticised by local councillors.

At last week’s meeting of the Health and Social Care Committee, members were given an update on plans to redesign the hospital in Balivanich following the decision last year to reduce beds on site.

The proposal includes bringing Griminish Practice into the hospital as well as dental services from North and South Uist and staff based at other locations.

A public consultation process is planned for later in the year but Uist councillors said the plan should be abandoned.

Cllr Neil Beaton said: “I am concerned about the proposal to centralise dental services in Balivanich, this seems to be totally insensitive way to respond to the needs of a rural population.”

He said he was concerned about the impact this would have on some elderly and vulnerable people who would have to travel a long way to access services.

He was told that the redesign would ensure safe and sustainable services in the Uists.

He added: “I’m going to have great difficulty in expressing that benefit to an elderly person who has to travel 40 miles.”

Cllr Ronnie Mackinnon urged the health board to wait until the new Integrated Health and Social Board had been set up before taking forward the redesign process.

He added that people were questioning what services were available in the hospital and said many patients were being relocated to Stornoway.

“Barra are in a better position as they can’t get flown to Stornoway,” he said. “They get flown to Glasgow and get a much better service.

“I have nothing against the Stornoway hospital, it’s very good , but what people in Uist want is to go straight to Glasgow where most people have relatives.”

He added that he was unaware of any issue with dental services in the Uists.

The redesign of the hospital is part of the capital programme for 2015-17 and this includes the erection of a Community Equipment Store on site.

Following the public consultation a formal proposal will be presented to the Western Isles Health Board in March 2016.