Con­sul­tant op­ti­mistic about fu­ture of ru­ral health care

The Oban Times - - News - MON­ICA GIB­SON mgib­son@oban­

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.

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