Garry Coutts, Chairman of NHS Highland, said it was an exciting opportunity for a new way of delivering health care to remote areas.
Pauline Howie, Chief Executive of the Scottish Ambulance Service, referred to the meeting on the 21st and said that positive progress has been made
West Ardnamurchan representatives then gave their presentations
Nicola responded saying that as Cabinet Secretary for Health the buck ultimately stops with her and she could only apologise for the consultation process, that it certainly sounded like things could have been done a lot better and that, even if the consultation had been performed properly, the fact that we feel as we do was bad enough. The original idea that first responders could be used as a front-line emergency response had been a mistake and undermined confidence locally. The NHS is there to help and sustain communities. There is a determination on everyone’s part to get it right for the future
They will look at what has happened and learn the lessons for future but for the rest of the meeting it would be more helpful to find a solution that we are happy with for the future. She praised Jessie and said that we can’t get another Jessie so we have to do something different. The new nurse has made a commitment to out of hours, they have an ambulance technician going through the recruitment process and are proposing to look for more emergency responders. Whatever is put in place would be subject to review and evaluation with participation from the community. We also need to deal with the response in the interim period before a new model can be put in place
David Garbutt, Chairman of the SAS, apologised for the lack of communication (apparently Mary Scanlon had never heard him/SAS apologise to anyone before) and said that they were committed to working together with communities.
Rosie asked if we would be getting a professional person around whom an ER team can be based
Reply – they would be advertising to fill a team of 6 people. All will be retained. They will advertise nationally for ERs, targeting people like paramedics, nurses, etc. One of the team of 6 will be identified as the leader to co-ordinate rotas, training etc. They will be trained to FPOS intermediate but will undergo training above this level. Garry Coutts said that the nurses in Kilchoan will be able to ‘backfill’ when the retained staff are doing shifts in Fort William etc.
The SAS have put this in writing but the community have not had a chance to look at it due to travelling. Over the next 24 hours we will look at it and get back to them. Rosie asked if we could see the ER advert before it goes out – that was agreed
Nicola was generally very supportive of the model, thought it is worth trying but assured us that she will be on top of the people concerned, getting feedback on how it is working. She committed to coming to visit West Ardnamurchan once it is up and running to talk to local people to get their views. The community must be involved in any ongoing evaluation/review.
Interim arrangements. SAS have been working overnight to come up with something. Jessie will cover overnight and this weekend. There will be a paramedic in the village on Friday and then next week they have organised the rotas so that we will be covered by ambulance staff during the day(?) and Jessie(?) at night. (Sorry my memory is vague here but we are definitely going to have cover).
Jac asked specifically about the additional £5m given to the ambulance service. The money was injected to solve the ‘meal break’ problem. The SAS need to shift resources around to allow them to cover meal breaks, in some areas this will mean new posts, which could be community paramedics. We don’t have an issue over this in our area, so the money won’t be coming to us. And in any case we are too small to justify a community paramedic - they would have to spend so much time away to retain their skills that it would not be worth having them.
Nicola Sturgeon said, I think said that the community needs to have confidence in the model but that it will take time for that to build up especially for some members of the community who would still like to see the old ways continue. She said it will only be once they see it working that they can be persuaded. Mary Scanlon added that it will take time but that it needs a chance to show it can work.
John Finnie MSP asked that the evaluation period should not be so strict that changes cannot be made until the end of it, if it is obvious that something is not working.