Saturday, January 18, 2020
The skye times mobile

A showdown confrontation looks likely in Raasay next week as the island's out of hours nursing cover row rumbles on.

After months of lobbying by the Community Council, including making an official complaint - which to date has remained unanswered - a public consultation meeting has been agreed by NHS Highland (NHSH) and will now take place on Monday 27 June.

Announcing the long awaited meeting, Raasay Community Council Secretary, Jill Westgarth, said: "We have asked representatives of NHSH to explain the changes they have made to the nursing service for Raasay since summer 2015, how they expect the service to operate at present, and the options for the future. We remain committed to the principle of a nurse/nurses based on the island.

"We have been told that Kate Earnshaw, District Manager Skye, Lochalsh and Wester Ross, and Ross MacKenzie, Area Manager (West) for NHSH will represent them at this meeting.

"We had asked that Gill McVicar, Director of Operations (North & West) and/or Tracy Ligema, Deputy Director of Operations should also attend. We feel their seniority reflects the great importance of this issue for the island but unfortunately neither of them is able to attend on this occasion – we hope to arrange a further date later when they can do so."

However, when they do arrive on the island neither of the NHSH representatives are expected to find few, if any, friends.

In a call up to locals to attend the gathering , the development officer for the Raasay Development Trust, Lloyd Gudgeon, seemed to reflect much of the feeling current on the island about the situation.

He said: "Despite assurances in March that there would be no further changes to 9-5 cover, a new District Nursing Protocol outlines a service which is a mere shadow of what we had before.

"We insisted that it was their responsibility to pass this on to you and to explain what it meant.   A public meeting has now been arranged for Monday 27th June at 3.30pm in the Community Centre. 

"We've asked them to explain the changes that have been brought in (without any consultation with the community); to explain how the service that we are left with is supposed to work; and outline some of their thoughts about future service provision.

"We want Monday's meeting to concentrate ONLY on the basic nursing cover on the island - 7 days a week, 24 hours a day.

"We don't want at this stage to let NHSH change the subject by talking about emergency evacuation from the island, or about how to provide out-of-hours cover - this will only let them off the hook and away from the main question which is, of course, where is our nurse? "There is an important discussion to be had  later, on emergency evacuation, which will need to include a wide range of all the agencies involved, but for the present we want to try and restrict Monday's meeting to nurse cover

" We have argued consistently that since we are unable to drive to A&E, we need medical expertise on the island but they have steadily decimated the service, failed to meet with us and all the while claimed to be consulting with the community.

"This meeting, 6 months after their previous visit, may be the best (or only) opportunity for some time that the community will have to make its opinions known, so we would encourage you to come along to the meeting and make the most of the chance to have your say.  We would be very grateful for your support."

"Please make a special effort to come along  this is a rare opportunity for us to show how important we feel this matter is to our community."


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