SHETLAND MSP Tavish Scott received assurances from Scotland's deputy first minister John Swinney on Thursday that the government is committed to ensuring pain relief services will continue to be delivered by NHS Shetland despite concerns over staff numbers.
Scott told the Scottish Parliament that of the two consultant anaesthetists providing the service, one had already left the island while the other was due to leave employment with the local health board by Christmas.
"This will affect not just chronic pain patients but could stop mothers delivering babies in Shetland if there are no anaesthetists with the necessary maternity experience," he said.
Standing in for Nicola Sturgeon at First Minister's question time, Swinney acknowledged the seriousness of the situation.
"Obviously we will have discussions with NHS Shetland about these questions," he said.
"Also, the health secretary (Shona Robison) will be very happy to discuss the issue directly with Mr Scott to make sure that there is a continuity of the service for those members of the public that clearly depend on the service."
NHS Shetland chief executive Ralph Roberts confirmed that of the four anaesthetists employed by the health board one had already left with two others due to be leaving in the new year.
He said: "We would want to reassure patients and the wider community that we have contingency plans in place to cover our emergency on call rota for anaesthetics using consultants who have worked at NHS Shetland previously and therefore understand our service and in particular the arrangements for our paediatric and maternity services.
"We therefore expect to continue to provide safe and effective critical care, maternity, paediatric and surgical services locally.
"In addition to this, we are working to ensure we have support from other health boards and interim consultant appointments so that we can sustain the chronic pain service that the current consultant team provides.
"We will also, over the course of 2018 look to review the chronic pain service, using input from specialist pain services elsewhere, so that we provide an effective and sustainable chronic pain service in the future."