MSP angry over lack of progress on Raasay nurse



13 December 2017

Rhoda Grant is frustrated and annoyed about the lack of progress in solving the problem of out-of-hours nursing cover on Raasay.

She has now written to NHS Highland Chief Executive, Elaine Mead, and Scottish Ambulance Chief Executive, Pauline Howie, after Raasay Community Council contacted her complaining of “interminable delays”.

Mrs Grant met community representatives on Raasay in January this year and has been supporting its campaign to have a professional nursing presence 24/7.

Residents on Raasay say they are being denied equity of access to out-of-hours urgent care because there is no nurse based on the island at night and at weekends. They argue that the community is exposed to greater risk than at any time in the last 80 years.

“Now, after a year of prevarication, we are no further forward, despite the community making a concession to try to get the cover they deserve,” said Mrs Grant.

“I am really angry about this because there appears to be a culture of having numerous meetings, with officials and senior politicians, and then treading water.

“All the while the withdrawal of out of hours nursing continues to leave Raasay’s residents exposed to unacceptable risk.

“It is just not acceptable and the public are getting weary of this. The bottom line is that the health service needs more investment and more staff. I can see that it is all coming apart at the seams in the Highlands and Islands.”

On 2nd June the community conceded that, rather than insisting it must be a nurse, it would be acceptable if Health & Social Care Support Workers filled the role, on condition that they were given SAS Emergency Responder training, to allow them to assist with whatever might arise.

Mrs Grant has now been told NHS Highland is now saying that, because there is no third-party agreement in place with the ambulance service, it cannot insist that individuals carry out this training.

“I agree with the community that a third party agreement is needed as a matter of urgency between NHS Highland and SAS,” added Mrs Grant.

“A formal agreement is desperately needed, to have a suitably qualified paramedic and out of hours practitioner on the island.”

Mrs Grant says if the island is to develop economically and socially, the presence of a nurse, in the evenings and at weekends, will provide reassurance and security both for residents and visitors, especially in the absence of an easily accessible GP.