Roslyn Macpherson, the SNP’s candidate for the upcoming by-election in Benbecula and North Uist, has welcomed “significant reassurances” on plans for the Uist & Barra Hospital given by NHS Western Isles Chief Executive Gordon Jamieson.
Roslyn Macpherson commented: “In response to enquiries received while I’ve been meeting people on doorsteps throughout the ward, I have taken the opportunity to discuss with Gordon Jamieson the concerns which have been raised over the reduction of beds at the Uist and Barra Hospital and the potential centralisation of dental practices.
“I was pleased to have secured significant reassurances on both issues. Crucially, the two issues are entirely separate as the area proposed for a possible dental practice is not the area freed by the reduction in bed capacity at the Hospital. Furthermore, bed capacity will remain higher than the number of beds which have been in use at any given time for some years, and higher than future projections.
“I have also been assured that the headline-grabbing figure of a 44% reduction in beds is inaccurate, as the maximum capacity will be 22 (20 GP/Acute care plus 2 maternity) rather than the 16 reported elsewhere. Patients in the hospital currently receiving Continuing Care will continue to do so under the planned changes, despite none of the Uist & Barra Hospital beds being classified in this way by the Government or the Comhairle.
“More positively, the hospital is set to benefit from enhanced facilities, including a permanent base for the Ambulance Service, and from the upskilling of staff.
“I am satisfied that those who will require Continuing Care in a hospital setting in future will receive it under the current proposals. Scottish Government policy is strongly focussed on care provision being made available outside a hospital setting wherever possible and NHS Western Isles is planning for this for the future.
“In the longer term, the Comhairle and Health Board will work together on integrated Health and Social Services, and I am pleased that Mr Jamieson welcomed my offer to meet again to discuss any concerns which may yet arise in the Uists relating to the Hospital’s role in these services.
“Concerns do remain over the proposal to centralise dental provision. But this will not proceed before being subject, in due course, to a rigorous public consultation.
“From the outset, I would encourage the community to engage with this process so that an accurate picture of public opinion is made clear. I look forward assisting in that process as an Elected Member for the ward.”