Jobs threat at Oban hos­pi­tal

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

ELEVEN clin­i­cal staff posts at Lorn and Is­lands Hos­pi­tal are set to go in a bid to cut costs at the area’s largest in­fir­mary.

Hos­pi­tal bosses say there will be no re­dun­dan­cies, but in­sid­ers say there is a ‘ tan­gi­ble re­duc­tion [through ‘nat­u­ral wastage’] in staff num­bers’ that will make the de­liv­ery of the ‘ high level’ of clin­i­cal care at the hos­pi­tal ‘even more dif­fi­cult to main­tain’.

A hos­pi­tal prac­ti­tioner, who did not want to be named, spoke to The Oban Times in bid to ‘do the job NHS High­land isn’t’, in telling the com­mu­nity the truth about the ‘mass re­duc­tion’ in staff.

He also re­vealed plans to re­duce the num­ber of beds in the hos­pi­tal and cre­ate a med­i­cal re­cep­tion area for pa­tients ‘in or­der to send peo­ple home rather than ad­mit them’.

It was some­thing, he said, that will ‘ fun­da­men­tally mean that the bur­den of care of se­ri­ously-ill pa­tients will be on a dwindling com­mu­nity staff, and there­fore onto fam­ily mem­bers ill- equipped to deal with the sit­u­a­tion’.

The man added: ‘ Do not be mis­led by the florid talk of the hos­pi­tal man­agers.

‘ This hos­pi­tal is at se­ri­ous risk from all the many re­duc­tions in staff.’

The long­stand­ing staff mem­ber said: ‘It has be­come ridicu­lous. We no longer have the time to do our jobs.

‘ The fact is plain and sim­ple, we are bear­ing the brunt of the over­spend in other ar­eas. We need peo­ple to stop com­plain­ing about the hos­pi­tal and to start get­ting ac­tive about mak­ing as much noise as pos­si­ble to save what we have.’

Dis­cus­sions on the fu­ture of the hos­pi­tal have alarmed mem­bers of the in­te­grated joint board – the or­gan­i­sa­tion set up to merge health care and NHS High­land in Argyll.

In pub­lic and pri­vate, nu­mer­ous board mem­bers say the health board is mak­ing sweep­ing changes while gov­er­nance for the new board has still not been fi­nalised.

Coun­cil­lor Mary-Jean Devon, the for­mer chair­woman of the in­te­grated joint board, said: ‘Any job losses in the health ser­vice would be a ma­jor con­cern to me be­cause, as it is, the staff are get­ting thin­ner and thin­ner on the ground and if they make it any thin­ner again we will be go­ing to the cities for ev­ery­thing.

‘ We can­not af­ford to lose any more ser­vices from Oban.

‘I would en­cour­age ev­ery­one to get be­hind the staff of the hos­pi­tal.

‘ Per­haps in the mean­time ev­ery­one who has to travel to another hos­pi­tal should be claim­ing ex­penses to show just how much it costs for peo­ple from this area to go else­where.’

A spokesman for NHS High­land said: ‘Argyll and Bute Health and So­cial Care Part­ner­ship’s strate­gic plan for 2016/17 to 2018/19 has iden­ti­fied six ar­eas of fo­cus, one of which is to re­duce the num­ber of avoid­able emer­gency ad­mis­sions to hos­pi­tal.

‘ Within Lorn and Is­lands Hos­pi­tal, work is cur­rently un­der way to re­design the two med­i­cal wards and cre­ate a med­i­cal as­sess­ment unit.

‘ This is all part of a move to shift­ing the bal­ance of care away from acute hos­pi­tal set­tings and to­wards treat­ing peo­ple in their own homes when­ever pos­si­ble.

‘ The cre­ation of as­sess­ment beds will im­prove the pa­tient path­way within the hos­pi­tal.

‘ Fol­low­ing pa­tient as­sess­ment in the [med­i­cal as­sess­ment] unit, a de­ci­sion will be made to ei­ther dis­charge the pa­tient di­rectly home or ad­mit them to the ward for fur­ther treat­ment.

‘Close links with the mul­ti­dis­ci­plinary teams, in­clud­ing phys­io­ther­a­pist, oc­cu­pa­tional ther­a­pist and so­cial worker, to­gether with the sup­port of the lo­cal ex­tended com­mu­nity care team, will help speed up pa­tient dis­charge or trans­fer from the as­sess­ment unit.’

Con­firm­ing the cut­ting of beds at the hos­pi­tal, the spokesman con­tin­ued: ‘A re­duc­tion of eight in­pa­tient med­i­cal beds will take place by Oc­to­ber 2016 and a trial of four as­sess­ment beds is due to take place in Au­gust.

‘ Work is cur­rently un­der way look­ing at the ap­pro­pri­ate work­force lev­els for the unit in con­junc­tion with staff.

‘ We are look­ing for­ward to work­ing in part­ner­ship with the third sec­tor and vol­un­tary or­gan­i­sa­tions to en­sure pa­tients re­ceiv­ing our ser­vices have a pos­i­tive ex­pe­ri­ence.’

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