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Letters / Ruthless decision

I have recently been made aware that the palliative care beds in Ronas Ward, Gilbert Bain Hospital, Lerwick, are to close. I believe the plan is to reduce beds from twelve to six, allocating these six for rehabilitation.

I am writing to express my deep concerns relating to this which, in my opinion, is a very ruthless decision.

I am aware that in today’s climate cut backs have to be made, but surely areas which are not directly affecting patient care should take priority and not end of life care where people should have a right to have the best care possible which in many cases, is best delivered on Ronas Ward.

We do not have the facility of a nursing home, hospice or Marie Curie nurses where the expertise exists.

I am very annoyed as a resident (born and raised) in Shetland, having not been made aware of any public consultation on the closure of these beds, which must impact on the rest of the hospital.

But also that my choice has been removed, because the senior management of NHS Shetland has decided what all Shetlanders will have to be left with in terms of end of life care.

The NHS – Choices website ‘Your Health, Your Choice’ states the list of places you can access for palliative care needs, including ‘Hospice Care’, ‘At Home’, ‘Care Home’, Day Patient’ and ‘In Hospital’.

Ronas Ward has provided hospice care in hospital at a very high standard. The idea that this expertise and facility is going to be simply wiped away from the residents of Shetland, without their consultation is, in my opinion, completely unacceptable.

It seems that NHS Shetland management are trying to slide this through the net so it is done before the public can object, and I feel this is making a fool of the Shetland community.

We are lucky to have excellent Macmillan nurses who assist with end of life care within the home environment, and I realise many people choose to remain at home for their end of life care as this is their preferred choice. However it is, at present, a ‘choice’.

When the palliative care beds on Ronas Ward are no longer, this will no longer be a choice and many people will be left to die at home, in care centres with carers who are not medically qualified, or in acute hospital wards.

The palliative care beds on Ronas Ward are absolutely essential in providing immediate, holistic, specialised, quality care from a qualified medical team of dedicated nurses.

Surely this service cannot simply be ‘cut’ without prior public knowledge/consultation!

Claire Pottinger
1 Upper Hillside