WACC has today written to Nicola Sturgeon, all our MSPs, our Highland Councillors, Charles Kennedy MSP, NHS Highland and the Scottish Ambulance Service. The letter has been copied to all media outlets.
Those of you who value the medical service we have out here should consider writing to Nicola Sturgeon and as many of our MSPs as possible, in similar terms.
The letter reads -
Dear Xxxxx -
Yesterday, all households in West Ardnamurchan received a circular from NHS Highland and the Scottish Ambulance Service which sets out to describe the nursing service proposed for implementation next February. Their 'model' fundamentally depends on their being able to recruit a minimum of 6 Emergency Responders to deal with out-of-hours 999 emergencies. We can identify only 8 people in the community who have the required qualifications, of whom two spend a lot of time away, and one is 96. Further, to our knowledge, no-one has volunteered.
In the circumstances, it is very important indeed that NHS Highland withdraws the misleading advertisement for the new community nurse (link to job description here) until the SAS can demonstrate that the proposed 'Emergency Responder' model has the necessary personnel and is both safe and sustainable. In the meanwhile, the community overwhelmingly supports a continuation of the District Nursing model which has operated so effectively here.
The main points in the circular are -
1. The new and existing Kilchoan nurses will be part of the Lochaber Team. They will not be based in the Kilchoan Medical Centre. The new nurse will not be required to live in West Ardnamurchan. They will not be available out-of-hours but may choose to join the Emergency Responder team. For much of their working day they will be away from West Ardnamurchan.
2. Out-of-hours emergency calls and, presumably, calls when no nurse is on West Ardnamurchan, will be dealt with by a team of a minimum of six Emergency Responders. These will be ex-doctors, ex-nurses and ex-paramedics who are given a 10-day refresher course and will be paid at the rate of £8.11 to £9.63 for call-outs and training. This ignores the fact that we can identify only 8 people in the community who come into the category, of whom two spend a lot of time away, and one is 96. Further, to our knowledge, no-one has volunteered.
3. Emergency Responders will be trained to First Person on Scene Intermediate Level. They must be prepared to respond to an emergency alone, though two going out together is preferable. They will be part of a 'one in three rota' - this is not defined.
4. They will be supported by a 'pool of Community Responders'. This is the first we have heard of 'Community Responders', so we have no idea what this means or whom they hope to recruit. Bear in mind that nine of our ten 'First Responders' resigned through mismanagement by the SAS, and no-one volunteered for an earlier 'Co-Responder' model.
5. They state that the change is 'about patient and staff safety, not money'.
We have been given no evidence that this model will work. Those to whom I have spoken who are eligible to become Emergency Responders are well aware that, with back-up so long in coming, they will be left with seriously ill or injured patients for long periods of time.
Please let me know if you would like me to email a copy of the circular.
With best wishes
West Ardnamurchan Community Council