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Health / Concerns in community over nursing provision, meeting hears

ASSURANCES have been sought that nursing provision will be maintained on Shetland’s outer islands.

Shetland South councillor Allison Duncan raised the issue at a meeting of the full council on Wednesday, adding that it was a “very serious concern” in Fair Isle.

His question came as councillors discussed a review of a health and social care joint strategic commissioning plan.

Integration joint board chief officer Brian Chittick said health authorities were always keen to engage with “non-doctor” islands.

“We’re certainly aligned to providing that care on an ongoing basis, to support the communities with what they need from a healthcare perspective,” he said.

Chittick added that each island was “nuanced” in its own needs.

Lerwick councillor John Fraser pointed to a recent process on developing a new healthcare model in Bressay as an “excellent” piece of engagement, saying he had confident in the authorities to work with the islands.

But Shetland West councillor Catherine Hughson felt it was not just the islands that were concerned.

“It’s not only pertinent in the islands,” She said.

“One constituency in my area, which is Walls, are very worried at the moment about the level of nursing allocation to the Walls practice.

“I think it would need to be looked at across the board.”

In response to the health and social care joint strategic commissioning plan, which covers the period between 2019 and 2022, Lerwick member Amanda Hawick raised concern over the report’s admission that it has not yet been possible to “fully align the budgeting process with the planning process in the current year”.

Chittick said the aspiration is to align the directions given out by the integration joint board, which brings together the council and NHS Shetland to cover health and social care, with the strategic plan and the budgeting process.

He said “that has been really difficult this year to do”, but things should be smoother once pandemic management is “parked”.

Shetland Central member Moraig Lyall, meanwhile, took the opportunity to encourage a rebrand of the local integration joint board.

She said the name of the board “could have as much to do with the price of fish as health and care”.

Lyall suggested a name such as “Shetland health and care” could give a better indication as to its role.

Chittick suggested it would be difficult to change the name of the board as it is bound by legislation, but said it is a point he will take forward.