Wednesday, 8 December 2010

A Campaign Takes Shape

West Ardnamurchan is preparing to fight the decision by NHS Highland to withdraw the superb out-of-hours service currently offered by our District Nurses.

At present, a District Nurse is on duty for emergency call every night as well as 9 to 5. At night, they can only be called out by NHS24 or our GPs - the NHS24 operators should know that this service is available.

A District Nurse will be with any patient within our area in under 15 minutes. The ambulance at Strontian can get here in about an hour and a quarter. Depending where the doctors are - and we are blessed with two doctors who do respond out-of-hours - they will take around an hour. The nearest helicopter takes a minimum of 45 minutes to reach us. Finally, the ambulance takes upward of two hours to reach The Belford A&E from here, longer if it can't use the Corran Ferry; the helicopter takes 20 minutes.

While neither of our Nurses is trained as a paramedic, their experience over the years makes them very competent indeed. They cannot be replaced by the recently-trained First Responders.

The service provided by the District Nurses, along with our team of Carers, has been fundamental to the ability of this community to care for so many old people in their homes for as long as possible - we currently have three people over 90. The Nurses also support a number of people who have serious conditions such as diabetes, asthma and epilepsy. Their role has given confidence to the young families who live here or have moved here, and to our many visitors, some of whom do not hesitate to come here, even if they have medical conditions.

NHS Highland is not offering us any improvement to the service. Their argument is that it is 'not sustainable' - though they do not define what the term means.

At present the Action group is organising:

- a petition
- individual letters from as many people as possible to Scottish Government ministers
- press releases, local and national
- letters to interested MSPs, MPs and Highland Councillors
- a FaceBook group
- a communication system around the peninsula so everyone knows what is happening

If anyone has experience of the sort of lobbying we need to do, and is willing to share that experience, we'd bless you for your help. Please contact us at

1 comment:

  1. Just to add my voice to those deploring the decision re out of hours community nurses.

    Having read the various blog pieces previously concerning the establishment of the first responders group, it increasingly looks like a deeply cynical move on the part of Highlands NHS to remove funding for professional medical support, leaving volunteers to take an unacceptable responsibility. I am left wondering, which came first, the encouragement to set up the scheme or the decision to cut nursing cover? In hindsight, the establishment of the scheme in Kilchoan and the helicopter beacon look increasingly to have been paving the way for this move.

    Living in rural Norfolk, where the first responder scheme is also being widely promoted, I take your situation as a warning.