Pro­pos­als to save health­care will see to­tal ser­vice re­vamp

Ru­ral com­mu­nity hubs be­ing con­sid­ered in rad­i­cal plans to over­haul NHS

The Oban Times - - Front Page - LOUISE GLEN lglen@oban­

RAD­I­CAL plans by the Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment could see health­care on the West Coast and is­lands com­pletely trans­formed over the next 15 years, says health min­is­ter Shona Ro­bi­son.

But crit­ics from Ar­gyll say it will still mean pa­tients have lit­tle ac­cess to life­sav­ing medics when they are needed most, not least be­cause of lack of staff and poor broad­band ser­vices.

Plans are be­ing con­sid­ered for ru­ral health­care hubs, which would see ru­ral health care hubs based around GP surg­eries.

While a team of ex­perts would be in­volved in the care of pa­tients, they may not at­tend

in per­son but vir­tu­ally, down a se­cure in­ter­net con­nec­tion.

Multi- dis­ci­plinary teams would be based in lo­cal com­mu­nity hubs, with re­gional or na­tional cen­tres of ex­per­tise for some acute ser­vices.

This Ms Ro­bi­son ar­gues would ad­dress con­cerns such as poor pat­terns of health and health inequal­i­ties, a rapidly age­ing pop­u­la­tion, high lev­els of pre­ventable dis­eases and tight fi­nances.

In an­swer to sus­tained ques­tion­ing by med­i­cal pro­fes­sion­als and health­care ad­vo­cates, Ms Ro­bi­son told a packed hall at At­lantis Leisure Cen­tre ear­lier in the au­tumn that pri­mary care ser­vices were stretched and ‘ com­mu­ni­ties rightly have higher ex­pec­ta­tions’.

She con­tin­ued: ‘ So I want to trans­form our ap­proach to en­sure that peo­ple see the right pro­fes­sion­als more quickly.’

Ms Ro­bi­son wants to ‘sup­port com­mu­ni­ties to in­no­vate so that ser­vices are avail­able where peo­ple need them’, adding that ru­ral hos­pi­tals in places such as Oban and Mull were likely to con­tinue to have re­cruit­ment con­cerns.

At present there are va­can­cies filled by locums in more than 10 lo­ca­tions. Fees for spe­cial­ist con­sul­tants are up­wards of £100 per hour, with nurses from Ire­land mak­ing up staffing short­falls on some wards.

Speak­ing af­ter the re­cent cabi­net meet­ing in Oban, Ms Ro­bi­son said: ‘The NHS of the fu­ture must be very dif­fer­ent from the past. Main­tain­ing the sta­tus quo in health and so­cial care is not an op­tion. And we need to start dis­cussing and plan­ning for change now.

‘I want to seek con­sen­sus on how to make more progress in im­prov­ing the health of the pop­u­la­tion, and on how our NHS and so­cial care sys­tems should change by 2030 to con­tinue sup­port­ing ev­ery­one to live well.

‘I’m seek­ing views on new mod­els of care, in­clud­ing those which might be de­liv­ered by multi- dis­ci­plinary teams in lo­cal com­mu­nity hubs, with re­gional or na­tional cen­tres of ex­per­tise for some acute ser­vices, fo­cused on high- qual­ity care and im­proved health out­comes.

‘We must max­imise the con­tri­bu­tion of all health­care pro­fes­sions – not just doc­tors and nurses, but al­lied health pro­fes­sion­als, phar­ma­cists, health­care sci­en­tists, so­cial work­ers and health­care sup­port work­ers too – work­ing to the top of their pro­fes­sional ca­pa­bil­ity.’

I want to trans­form our ap­proach.

Shona Ro­bi­son

Health Min­is­ter

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