Pen­sioner says ex­penses could save hos­pi­tal beds in Oban

The Oban Times - - News -

AN 87-YEAR- OLD woman from Mull has spo­ken of her anger at the amount of money that was spent on travel ex­penses while her late hus­band was ill, writes David McPhee.

On sev­eral oc­ca­sions Ali­son Bartholomew and her hus­band had to travel 30 miles to the ferry ter­mi­nal on Mull be­fore mak­ing the on­ward trip to ei­ther Glas­gow or Ed­in­burgh.

She said: ‘I think it prob­a­bly goes into four fig­ures. It’s ut­terly shock­ing to think this money could be sav­ing [hos­pi­tal] beds in Oban.’

Mrs Bartholomew’s hus­band John was di­ag­nosed with a leaky heart valve, but she said it took nearly two months for him to see any­one in the car­diac depart­ment af­ter he had all the ap­pro­pri­ate x-rays.

When they thought they were go­ing to re­ceive a date to op­er­ate, they re­ceived a let­ter say­ing he re­quired three ad­di­tional ap­point­ments, each of which turned out to be a month apart, in three dif­fer­ent Glas­gow hos­pi­tals.

Mrs Bartholomew said: ‘The fi­nal in­sult was the surgery would fi­nally be car­ried out in an Ed­in­burgh hos­pi­tal. It’s stag­ger­ing and what an­noys me is I’m just one per­son and I live on Mull. What about peo­ple who live on Barra or Coll or Tiree? Their ex­penses are even higher and in their case they of­ten have to be flown out.

‘Un­for­tu­nately my hus­band died four days be­fore the planned op­er­a­tion, which he only got be­cause he went to the top and said this is ab­surd.

‘Our son had a sim­i­lar op­er­a­tion and they op­er­ated within 24 hours, so I’m not only unim­pressed, I’m also very dis­tressed at hav­ing lost my hus­band.’

How­ever, Mrs Bartholomew is not crit­i­cal of NHS staff. Her crit­i­cisms lie with how the funds are be­ing dis­trib­uted.

She said: ‘I had a stoke in the mid­dle of a Sun­day night in Fe­bru­ary and I was brought over in the lifeboat and they [the staff] saved my life. They were kind­ness it­self to both my hus­band and my­self.

‘I could see how stressed they were and over­worked, but they never com­plained; they were al­ways cheery and were al­ways kind and above all they were al­ways ex­tremely ef­fi­cient.

‘The mat­ter is so se­ri­ous now with the mis­man­age­ment of NHS funds that I thought I re­ally had to re­port it when it comes to clos­ing yet more of our beds in Lorn and the Is­lands [hos­pi­tal].’

Oban South and the Isles coun­cil­lor Roddy McCuish said: ‘As a re­cently ap­pointed mem­ber of the Mull lo­cal­ity group, this was one of the main rea­sons I asked to go on to the group – to make sure that one size doesn’t fit all. We have to make sure that the ru­ral area and our is­lands re­ceive first­class med­i­cal care as I would ex­pect with all pa­tients.

‘The lo­cal­ity plan­ning groups are in­valu­able to find lo­cal so­lu­tions to lo­cal prob­lems.’

A spokes­woman for NHS High­land said: ‘ We are sorry to hear of her con­cerns and would en­cour­age her to get in touch with us di­rectly so we can look into these and in­ves­ti­gate for­mally.

‘ Wher­ever it is safe and sus­tain­able to do so, NHS High­land en­deav­ours to pro­vide ap­pro­pri­ate ser­vices as close to com­mu­ni­ties as pos­si­ble - within ru­ral gen­eral hos­pi­tals, com­mu­nity hos­pi­tals and pri­mary care ser­vices.

‘Spe­cial­ist ser­vices will be pro­vided from the larger teach­ing hos­pi­tals and in these cir­cum­stances, travel as­sis­tance is pro­vided.’

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