Nurses crack­ing un­der the strain, says ex-sur­geon

The Oban Times - - News - LOUISE GLEN lglen@oban­

AN SURGE in pa­tients re­quir­ing treat­ment dur­ing the sum­mer has placed an un­bear­able work­load on nurses at an Oban hos­pi­tal.

That’s the view of for­mer hos­pi­tal con­sul­tant, Brian MacKay, who said he was ‘hor­ri­fied’ watch­ing over-stretched nurses try­ing in vain to cope with their work­load re­cently.

Mr MacKay had taken his 86-year- old fa­ther, who lives in the Oban area, to the out- ofhours ser­vice at the Lorn and Is­lands dis­trict hos­pi­tal where he had to wait for 12 hours be­fore a nurse could treat his el­derly par­ent.

The re­tired sur­geon said: ‘I was hor­ri­fied to see staff who were over­worked and un­able to help those in need.

‘While I un­der­stand my dad was not a pri­or­ity - I was shocked to see just how busy the hos­pi­tal was. My fa­ther didn’t have any­thing se­ri­ously wrong with him - thank good­ness. But get­ting ac­cess to NHS 24 and then through the out- of-hours ser­vice took too long.

‘Staff are very clearly over­stretched and un­less some­thing is done, it will re­main dif­fi­cult for them to get through their caseload.

‘We met peo­ple who had to make their own way to the hos­pi­tal and then were be­ing sent to Pais­ley, in­stead of re­ceiv­ing treat­ment here in Oban.’

His com­ments were en­dorsed by pa­tients who say staff are work­ing long hours and seem to be ‘rushed off their feet’.

Bri­ony Miller, who was vis­it­ing her par­ents in Oban, agreed with Brian MacKay: ‘My eight-yearold son fell and broke his arm. We rushed him to Oban hos­pi­tal.

‘But in­stead of him be­ing treated there, he was taken to Pais­ley.

‘We had to wait for hours to be seen, de­spite us phon­ing ahead. We also had to drive there our­selves.

‘ While I ap­pre­ci­ate there are var­i­ous prob­lems in get­ting staff, surely some­one has no­ticed that the ex­cel­lent staff at the hos­pi­tal are over­worked more in the sum­mer. Chil­dren have a right to be treated near­est to their fam­i­lies.’

A nurse, who did not want to be named, said: ‘Over the last few years, the hos­pi­tal has seen fewer and fewer ser­vices de­liv­ered in Oban. Part of the prob­lem is staff, another is the lack of spe­cial­ists, but mostly, it seems to me, that it is keep­ing costs down at all costs.’

How­ever, a spokesman for NHS High­land de­nied there had been a spike in the num­ber of sum­mer pa­tients to be treated: ‘There has been no sig­nif­i­cant in­crease in de­mand com­pared to the same pe­riod last year and there­fore any sug­ges­tion that we are hav- ing to trans­fer pa­tients to other hos­pi­tals due to de­mand is not only wrong, but also po­ten­tially dam­ag­ing to the con­fi­dence our com­mu­ni­ties may have in the ser­vices pro­vided lo­cally and it could also po­ten­tially un­der­mine the morale of our hard-work­ing staff.

‘The hos­pi­tal is a busy en­vi­ron­ment due to the wide range of ser­vices that we pro­vide lo­cally and this is to be wel­comed. We do en­sure, how­ever, that we have suf­fi­cient staff on duty to meet the needs of our pa­tients.

‘How­ever, we al­ways welcome feed­back on our ser­vices and if any in­di­vid­ual does have any con­cerns, then we would ask them to con­tact us so that we can in­ves­ti­gate those con­cerns.’

But Oban com­mu­nity coun­cil chair­woman, Marri Mal­loy, claimed the hos­pi­tal was be­com­ing ‘an of­fice block’ with so many pa­tients be­ing re­ferred else­where for treat­ment.

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