Western Isles Hospital to lose both surgeons

There is already a heavy reliance on locums at the hospital.There is already a heavy reliance on locums at the hospital.
There is already a heavy reliance on locums at the hospital.
Ospadal nan Eilean in Stornoway will lose both its surgeons by the end of the year, the Western Isles NHS Board has been told, along with warnings about potential impacts on patient care and also the Board’s hard-pressed finances.

A brief report to the Board’s on-line meeting said: “NHS Western Isles will lose both Surgeons by end of year. Gaps in rotas could result in high cost agency being employed. Potential outcomes include an impact on patient/staff experience, an impact on our surgical trainees with potential knock-on complications with the Deanery”.

This is a reference to the Scotland Deanery which “works in partnership with Health Boards to train doctors and dentists to be the senior clinicians we need to treat Scotland's people in the future”.

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The absence of fully trained surgeons in Stornoway could have a knock-on impact on training provision.

The Gazette asked the Health Board this week for “some background” on the reasons for losing two surgeons more or less simultaneously “and an update on the arrangements that are being made to maintain cover”.

In response, the Board said: “We have a natural turnover of staff and a consultant workforce made up of both substantive and locum staff. Locum staff are, by their very nature, temporary. 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”.

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This programme, 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".

The Scottish Government recently faced criticism at a conference on Skye for failing to fulfill a manifesto commitment on provision of surgical services in rural general hospitals though the Western Isles situation in losing both surgeons is now worse than elsewhere in the islands.