Continuing Care Beds – Ospadal Uibhist agus Bharraigh
A ‘Freedom of Information’ request to NHS Western Isles regarding bed occupancy at the above hospital and the status of the designated eight continuing care beds, came back last Friday with the following information:
“There are no continuing care beds at Uist and Barra Hospital.”
So, there we have it, all the brou-ha-ha about cutting beds from 29 to 16 – by 44% – with flexibility to increase to 20 beds, does not really relate in any significant way to cutting the number of acute beds, but rather to discontinuing the historically agreed provision for those patients with long-term and chronic medical conditions. Such patients may be defined as those who would traditionally require nursing home type care, as many of the patients who previously occupied beds at the Lochmaddy Hospital (28 beds), closed down in 2001 when the new hospital opened in Balivanich.
Whilst I am not really in favour of those with long-term conditions being cared for in a hospital setting, and don’t disagree with this decision, I am very much concerned that no discussion has proceeded with the Local Authority, Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, to ensure that alternative provision is in place before these eight beds are removed, “at a stroke”, and without any consultation whatsoever with the affected communities.
The Comhairle is responsible for the provision of residential and community care services. In my estimation NHS Western Isles will save about £3/4m pa by not providing eight continuing care beds in Ospadal Uibhist agus Bharraigh.
Under the terms of the Scottish Government “transformational agenda”, shifting the balance of care, this money should be redirected towards the provision of appropriate care in the community, including residential care. Perhaps the old Lochmaddy Hospital can be utilised for this purpose?
NHS Western Isles has responded in an excellent article in Am Pàipear on this subject by saying that “the hospital is not included in the plans for joint working between the Health Board and the Comhairle”. This makes a mockery of integrated health and social care strategic planning as we move forward.
The Health Secretary, Shona Robison MSP must now intervene, as I have already asked her to do in a letter of 2nd February.
By-Election Candidate – Ward 2