Nurses cracking under the strain, says ex-surgeon
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.