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Health / Training unit heads north to teach surgical skills

Photo: Dundee Institute for Healthcare Simulation

LOCAL hospital and primary care staff will receive training next week in surgical skills thanks to the visit of a mobile teaching unit from the Scottish mainland.

Gordon Hogg, skills facilitator from the Dundee Institute for Healthcare Simulation (DIHS), is coming to the isles for two sessions on Thursday and Friday.

Advanced nurse practitioners and GPs will be taught basic surgical skills, such as punch biopsies, excision of cysts and wound closure techniques, with an emphasis on primary care.

While the mobile facility has visited Shetland in previous years, it will be the first time surgical training will be delivered in the simulation-based unit.

NHS Shetland interim medical director Brian Chittick said: “The professional development of all clinicians working in Shetland is a priority for the health board.

“To this end the mobile skills unit has provided a facility that ensures our healthcare professionals can receive the same training as their Scottish mainland counterparts.

“We welcome the team from the Dundee Institute for Healthcare Simulation and look forward to the high level training they offer.

“We hope that they will continue to return annually to Shetland which will benefit all our staff and patients.”

Mhairi Roberts, who is the health board’s practice educator/clinical development facilitator, said the mobile unit “visits Shetland each year to bring high quality teaching and learning to NHS Shetland staff”.

Hogg said the course being delivered normally takes place in the Surgical Skills Centre at Ninewells Hospital in Dundee.

“We have permission to use the nationally recognised techniques used to train surgeons minor surgery with videos provided by The Royal College of Surgeons, Edinburgh,” he said.

Co-director of DIHS Dr Vanessa Kay reiterated that healthcare staff in rural areas find it harder to take time off to travel to training sessions.

But she said “geography is no excuse for patients in rural areas not having access to the best care possible”.

“For many years, we have been delivering training in a wide range of surgical skills to GPs, hospital doctors, nurses and other professionals but this is first time we have taken our training on the road in this way,” Kay added.

“We will be delivering the sessions on how to perform minor surgical procedures from the vehicle, which is fitted out with state-of-the-art simulation equipment.

“We are very excited to see how this goes and hope to extend this service to other remote areas of the country in future.”

The current “state of the art” unit launched last year as an upgrade to the previous vehicle at a cost of £265,000.

The old unit first visited Shetland in 2008 and it returned nearly every year.