A call has been made for Health Minister Shona Robison MSP to issue a moratorium on proposed changes to healthcare provision in Uist until new health and social care integration structures are in place.
Uist Association of Community Councils (UACC) says moves to reduce bed numbers at Ospadal Uibhist agus Bharraigh and relocate dental surgeries to the hospital should be stalled until NHS Western Isles and Comhairle nan Eilean Siar have formed a new body to deliver adult health and social care services in the Outer Hebrides.
At a meeting on Thursday 12th February, representatives from each of the six local community councils, along with local councillors, discussed significant concerns about a decision by NHS Western Isles to cut the number of beds at Ospadal Uibhist agus Bharraigh from 29 to 16.
UACC also discussed the upcoming consultation on plans to relocate the three existing dental practices at Lochmaddy, Lochboisdale and Lionacleit into the hospital at Balivanich.
UACC members said they had already received considerable representation on the latter proposal, and suggested a direct relationship between both proposals – relocating the three dental practices appears to be dependent on creating space at the hospital by cutting bed numbers.
In a statement, UACC said: “[UACC] regrets the manner in which these announcements were made, without any consultation whatsoever with the affected communities, and at a time when the Health Board and Comhairle nan Eilean Siar have just began a consultation on proposals for Integrated health and social care services.
“The association is firmly of the view that any changes being proposed for Ospadal Uibhist agus Bharraigh will inevitably impact on community-based health and social care services, and any significant change of function being considered for the hospital, should not be decided upon in isolation.
“For example, the association wishes to clarify the status of the eight beds at the hospital originally designated as ‘continuing care beds’ for patients with chronic long-term medical conditions. Do these beds still remain within the 16 bed designation? It is a known fact that local authority provision in the two residential care homes are facing increasing pressures as a result of demographic trends, and they operate at 100% capacity with waiting lists.”
UACC members unanimously decided to write to the Cabinet Secretary for Health and Well-Being, Shona Robison MSP, to request her immediate intervention, recommending that a moratorium be called on both proposals until such time as the newly constituted integrated joint board and managers have had an opportunity to comprehensively assess the diverse and challenging health and social care needs of the communities served by the hospital.