Consultant optimistic about future of rural health care
A CONSULTANT who spent more than 20 years working in a Lochaber hospital says a collaborative approach is needed to keep rural hospitals viable.
Dr Sedgwick, who is originally from Cumbria but moved to Lochaber in 1992, said: ‘There has been a change in thinking towards medical training. The trend was too far down the super specialist route and not enough general practitioners.
‘ What is really needed is a collaborative approach where patients can get routine treatment in or near their home town and only have to travel for more complicated procedures.’
Dr Sedgwick’s comments come as the NHS health board agreed a capital programme for a new hospital to be built in Fort William.
At the NHS Highland board meeting on March 28, it was decided £400,000 will be set aside in 2018/19 and £1 million in 2019/20 for design and site works.
A further £9 million in 2020/21 and £9.5 million in 2021/22 has been agreed to build the new hospital on the Blah Mor site.
Board member Dr Michael Foxley said this confirmation of the timescale for building the new hospital was excellent news, although he believed more money would be needed.
He added: ‘During 2017, as a community, we have to discuss the future service needs of the new hospital, especially with the major developments planned by Liberty at the British Aluminium site.’
David Sedgwick now spends time in Syria and Rwanda
The trend was too far down the super specialist route David Sedgwick
teaching basic surgical skills and coaching practitioners on how to deal with trauma and hernia care.
He told the Lochaber Times: ‘I have been to Palestine probably on seven occasions now.
‘When people undergo these kind of treatments in the UK, they are planned procedures but because medical help is so limited over there, they are often emergencies and this has a huge impact on the mortality rate. Our aim is to equip more people with the tools for dealing with emergencies but also to try and get treatment earlier.’
Dr Sedgwick said he is optimistic about the new hospital and says with a collaborative approach, where specialists are supported by generalists, people in rural areas can be confident in any treatment they may need in the future.
Last month dr Sedgwick held a talk at the West Highland College in Fort William entitled: ‘Life as a Highland Surgeon’.
The father of six explained: ‘I hope I have given an idea of what can be done in this profession in a rural area.
‘There is more chance of being able to come back to work in a place like this if that’s what the students want.
‘There are obviously large numbers of people being trained in the city but small communities need to be channeling through skilled people who then need to be supported if they want to be able to use their skills at home.
‘ We don’t want to lose all our highly trained young people.’
Dr Sedgwick had been in receipt of some treatment himself after falling off his bicycle just before he was due to do his presentation on March 30.
He said: ‘I have broken my right leg and injured my left thumb. I came off just near Inverlochy roundabout.
‘Passers-by kindly picked me up so I thankfully didn’t need blue lights. I was taken to the Belford and experienced the health service from the sharp end.
‘I will need to go to Raigmore for some specialist testing but that is a classic example of how things work well with a collaborative approach.’
Dr Sedgwick is also part of a group called Viking Surgeons, of which there are six in Scotland. He said: ‘ Of course there are differences with how patients are treated in the city and in the Highlands, but when we meet it is clear there are things doctors from the cities can learn from rural doctors and the other way around.’
Sue Macfarlane, vice principal academic affairs, David Sedgwick, Mairi Penny , Business, Enterprise, Solutions, Training (BEST), Roddy MacPhee, Business Development Manager, BEST, at a talk organised by BEST at West Highland College UHI.