SIC - Orkney & Shetland valuation joint board

Letters / Hold health board to account

It is increasingly apparent that there is a need for elected representatives to hold Shetland health board members and their senior management team to account for performance and decision making.

If elected on 4 May it is my intention to do just that. These are the issues I will endeavour to address early in my tenure. 

1. Our community is awash with anecdotal evidence of a less than satisfactory service emanating from Lerwick Health Centre. Phones being placed on hold for 45 minutes to a waiting time of nine weeks to see a named doctor. If elected I will press for a full public review of Lerwick Health Centre to highlight both areas of strength and to identify solutions where public service provision falls short of reasonable expectations.

2. The director of community health is on record as saying that the last pieces of the jigsaw are being put in place for mental health services. This cannot be the case until all government waiting time targets are met, suitable fit for purpose premises are secured, a robust out-of-hours crises intervention service is in place, and the Integration Joint Board ensures that adequate training, resources and monitoring is in place to ensure that all housing officers and other officials are meeting their statutory duty.

3. It was recently confirmed that it is the intention to extend intermediate care into the community with the subsequent closure of Gilbert Bain Hospital Ronas Ward. We have an aging population and a duty of care to towards them. NHS Shetland chief executive has publically stated that recruiting staff to expand intermediate care through the community will be difficult. If elected I will challenge that a prerequisite to any decision to close Ronas Ward is ensuring that community based services are in place, robust and fit for purpose with provision in place for regular, meaningful and transparent reviews of service provision.

4. The latest questionable decision is to make sailing the preferred mode of transport for patients attending appointments in Aberdeen.  Despite the obvious arguments of patient welfare, comfort, late ferry arrivals, cancellations, cabin availability, effect on our lifeline air service and impact on other aspects of a patient’s life. This decision has been made without any public consultation and without NHS Shetland partaking in ongoing discussions between Loganair and NHS Scotland. Such a knee-jerk and clearly uninformed decision is unacceptable. It has been cited that two thirds of journeys for outpatient appointments are unnecessary and could be performed via telephone or video conference. Why then are those in the higher echelons of NHS not doing something to address this needless, expensive and disruptive practice? Instead we hear the NHS Shetland chief executive say he would like to “encourage patients to ask questions about the need for some appointments… which may well be deliverable in Shetland”. NO Mr Roberts. That is your job.

I trust that the good people of Lerwick North will provide me with the opportunity to represent their interests regarding the above.

John Fraser 

17 North Road, Lerwick

Shetland Islands Council candidate (Lerwick North)