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Health / ‘End of an era’ as Hillswick GP to stop offering out of hours service

THE HILLSWICK GP practice is to stop providing its own out of hours cover – becoming the last Shetland mainland health centre to do so.

The practice will be covered by the Shetland mainland out of hours service at nights and weekends from 1 June.

Hillswick GP Susan Bowie.

Dr Susan Bowie, who runs the surgery and has provided round-the-clock cover for decades, said the main reason for the change is the difficulties the practice has had in recruiting a new GP – which has been ongoing for around a year and a half.

She said a big barrier to recruitment appears to be the fact that Hillswick offers its own out of hours service, 365 days a year.

“I’m very sad to have to consider giving up the out of hours as I always thought I’d provide it until retirement and will still provide ‘good Samaritan’ help in the event of serious emergency or road accident if I’m available,” Dr Bowie said.

She said health boards have to provide out of hours cover – “they have a visiting GP on for the Shetland mainland, or patients might be directed to casualty”.

Dr Bowie said if people need to be seen immediately, in the event of an emergency ambulances are sent out.

But she has noticed a lot of patients were going straight to casualty if it was an emergency.

“Sometimes we weren’t getting any calls for up to six months at a stretch,” Dr Bowie explained.

“So it was difficult to persuade GPs to come and do it, when they can get jobs where they are off at 5.30pm.”

She added that there will still be the usual Saturday morning surgery in Hillswick.

Dr Bowie’s husband Tom Morton, a councillor for Shetland North, described it as an “end of an era”.

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