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Letters / Doctors not trained to make economic decisions

How disappointed I am to hear of the proposals to force people to use the south boat to travel to medical appointments in Aberdeen rather than use the plane (‘NHS patients to travel to Aberdeen by ferry’, SN 14/3/17).

How far will the heath board push this ill-advised policy, will transplantees in the first months of recovery in future have to take the boat to Aberdeen and then a bus to Edinburgh, or Glasgow for their weekly visits, meaning that they spend four or five days travelling immediately after major surgery? 

Folk in this position will all most certainly need an escort, and over night accommodation, for them selves and their escort a big saving to be made over a flight there and back in one day, to say nothing of the possible medical complications due to all the effort involved in travelling, to essential appointments.

Teleconferencing can work in some cases, but medicine is as much an art as a science, requiring face-to-face, hands-on contact to enable clinicians to asses a patient’s condition accurately. 

The health board say that in some cases an exemption may be granted if a doctor advises it. So now busy GPs and consultants are being asked to make economic decisions, something which they are not trained to do and which may require them to break their Hippocratic oath to “treat all patients equally without fear or favour”.

But the most galling thing about this whole affair is the threat by the health board is that, If we, the patients don’t fall in line and do as we are told they may close the maternity ward at the Gilbert Bain Hospital, or GP surgeries. How dare they threaten us, the public? The managers of the health board are public servants, if anyone else threatened their employer in such an impertinent and heavy-handed manner they would soon be looking for another job. I suggest that the person who came up with this threat be removed from office at once, as they are obviously unfit to serve the public.

Robert Birchall


Camb, Yell