HOSPITAL SHUTS TO PATIENTS
Community facility closes to new admissions
Admissions of patients to Castle Douglas Cottage Hospital have been halted because of a lack of medical cover.
Dumfries and Galloway Health and Social Care Partnership (DGHSCP) took the action on Monday to ensure patient safety.
Kirkcudbright Cottage Hospital will provide medical assessment and support for the Stewartry until the situation is resolved.
The sudden decision to stop admissions has caused dismay in the town.
Local councillor Iain Howie said: “I share the community’s concern that such drastic measures had to be adopted at such short notice. However, patient care must take priority over other issues.
“Problems attracting GPs to work in rural communities is a national problem which requires a national solution.
“But the necessity of providing GP provision to cottage hospitals is one that I believe should feature in future GP contracts.”
In the interim, all patients requiring medical oversight are being transferred from Castle Douglas to Kirkcudbright.
An ongoing review is now under way of all patients in both hospitals to ensure they receive appropriate care and support.
DGHSCP general manager Graham Abrines said the unavailability of a doctor
combined with a lack of any viable alternative had forced the move.
He said: “This is due to wellknown issues around shortages of medical staffing, particularly GPs.
“We are in a situation where we have no option but to take immediate action in order to safeguard patients.
“We will ensure they receive high quality, safe and effective care and support from the appropriate clinical team in order to meet their needs.”
Medical cover must be available for cottage hospitals to fully function.
Patients can be medically assessed and treatment plans developed or revised with the patient, along with input from other professionals.
Medical management provision at Castle Douglas Cottage Hospital is expected to start to become available again in August.
The situation will be reviewed at that point.
Every other cottage hospital relies on existing arrangements for GP practices to provide medical management.
Mr Abrines said: “Ideally, we would be in a position where we had local medics or advanced practitioners who were in a position to provide the level of medical assessment and support required.
“However, the shortage of GPs in Dumfries and Galloway is well documented as part of a wider, national recruitment challenge.
“Every conceivable approach to providing alternate short-term cover has been exhausted.
“Full medical management provision is expected to be fully in place in September through a contract with a very experienced locum medic.”
South of Scotland Labour MSP Colin Smyth urged action to tackle staff shortages in the region.
He said: “Rather than bury their heads in the sand, it’s time this SNP Government properly resourced our NHS and fixed the recruitment crisis which is having such a profound impact.
“The halting of admissions at Castle Douglas Hospital will see patients having to be moved because the NHS cannot guarantee they would receive the high quality care they need in Castle Douglas and this is simply isn’t good enough.”
Concerned Councillor Iain Howie, right, at the hospital yesterday. Above, Graham Abrines said the facility had no option but to halt admissions
Recruitment crisis MSP Colin Smyth