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Mental health service loses key staff

NHS Shetland’s mental health service has suffered a severe blow after the health board’s two psychiatric doctors both handed in their notices.

Dr Martin Scholtz and Dr Almarie Harmse have resigned to work elsewhere in the UK after only moving to Shetland in 2015.

Both will work through their notice periods to help NHS Shetland secure their successors.

The two doctors were recruited amid criticism of the local service for missing government waiting time targets.

Chief executive Ralph Roberts said he hopes to maintain a “seamless” service in the department.

He added that the health service would need to promote Shetland as an attractive place to live and work to entice in-demand psychiatric staff to the isles.

“We will secure psychiatric input to the service, both in the short and longer term, for existing and new patients,” Roberts said.

“We will do our utmost to provide a seamless service, and the remainder of the mental health team will support this.

“We are aware of the recruitment challenges for psychiatrists across Scotland, so we are competing with a number of other areas for these specialists. We will market Shetland’s attractiveness for both work and lifestyle.”

Scholtz, who is the clinical director for the service, said: “We have enjoyed being part of the Shetland community, and the decision to move on was always going to be a difficult one to make.

“We are pleased to have experienced living and working in Shetland, and to help with the development of the mental health service”.

Meanwhile, NHS Shetland is set to hold interviews for a clinical nurse manager and a head of service for the mental health department in the next week.