Benbecula Community Council (BCC) has raised a series of concerns regarding the provision of healthcare in Uist and is seeking a meeting to raise matters further.
At its meeting on Tuesday 3rd February, BCC discussed the decisions announced by NHS Western Isles late last year, to reduce regular bed capacity at Ospadal Uibhist agus Bharraigh from 29 to 16, and to consult on a proposal to relocate the three existing dental practices at Lochboisdale, Lionacleit and Lochmaddy to the hospital in Balivanich.
Councillors were unanimous in their support of the published letter written by community councillor Andrew Walker to the Cabinet Secretary for Health and Well-Being, Shona Robinson MSP, copied to local elected members.
BCC said it was surprised Western Isles Health Board had chosen to proceed to implement this decision to reduce hospital bed numbers without any consultation whatsoever with the communities affected. It is, says BCC, presented as a fait accompli as though the views of local constituents, and existing or prospective patients, are unimportant.
Councillors discussed the wider ramifications of this decision. Anecdotal evidence was heard about the negative impact and high costs associated with patients having to travel long distances for fairly minor procedures.
BCC highlighted the lack of residential care home places and community-based health and social care services, running contrary to the Scottish Government agenda of shifting the balance of care from hospitals to the community. BCC says that the decision taken by NHS Western Isles will inevitably result in staff redundancies, with no apparent consequential increase in community-based staff being employed.
BCC also voiced concerns about the lack of funding for a Mental Health Outreach Worker post beyond April of this year and the lack of a replacement MacMillan Nurse, after the departure of Lorna Senior on her retirement.
BCC will be writing to the chair of the newly formed Association of Community Councils, Cllr Uisdean Robertson, requesting an early meeting to discuss the above concerns, which affect all Uist and Barra households.