14 Feb 2012

Special Delivery

All residents of West Ardnamurchan should have received a bundle of papers delivered by the Scottish Ambulance Service today. Amongst this there is a copy of the letter received by West Ardnamurchan Community Council last week - the only difference being that the one today doesn't have "Confidential" unhelpfully stamped all over it.

The main comments I have are as follows -

1. An Ambulance Technician who has "indicated a strong interest in Paramedic training" is a step forward, but far more appropriate would be a new invention, recently launched by Nicola Sturgeon at the cost of £5 million, called a Community Paramedic. Further, I want the post defined, a detailed job description, and a proper appointment process open to wide competition so we can get the best. I do not want the 'quick fix' Technician mentioned in the letter, who applied to be an Emergency Responder and is being appointed against no competition.

2. The new nurse, Avril, has 'indicated her interest' in living on West Ardnamurchan and being an Emergency Responder. If she is genuinely willing, then her job description should be changed so she has to be resident in West Ardnamurchan, and has to be an emergency responder - which is what WACC wanted from the start.

3. Given a Community Paramedic and two nurses committed to, and forming the core of the Emergency Responder team, I am very happy to see other Emergency Responders recruited to give them support and to deal with emergencies if the 'professionals' are all unavailable.

4. In the section "Core Nursing Services", I welcome the statement that the Kilchoan nurses will deal with local matters before moving off down the peninsula. Even more, I welcome the statement that "the nurses will also continue to provide a Practice Nursing service on behalf of the Acharacle Medical Practice". However, these statements need fleshing out - and could have been if NHSH and the SAS has reacted quickly to WACC's offer to come into Fort William to meet them and discuss these proposals. Instead they have sent the letter out, which has, if anything put the process back by several days.

5. There's nothing clear in the letter about how the nursing service is going to deal with NHS24 calls. The appointment of a Community Paramedic who would pick these up, in the same way as Carolyn and Jessie now do, would solve the problem and, perhaps, persuade the doctors not to opt out of their current 'on-call' service.

6. The worst part of the letter is its failure to do what Graham Crerar so eloquently asked for in the public meeting last Tuesday evening - that they should define the posts that will be filled rather than talk about individuals. That way, we would know the staffing complement for West Ardnamurchan and, if an individual did not want to participate, the tasks which NHSH and the SAS would be obliged to cover.

I am going to respond to their letter, as requested. I understand WACC is trying to find a way of getting a rapid community response back to them. But time is short, both for them and us. Jessie retires in under a week. WACC is seeing the Chief Executives and Chairs of NHSH and the SAS in the Fort a week today. The following day, the 22nd, WACC will be talking directly to Nicola Sturgeon.


  1. I wonder how many residents of West Ardnamurchan get left off these delivery rounds? Possibly more than the Action Group realises, and certainly more than the statement suggests. We didn't receive today's delivery of a "bundle of papers", any more than we received the previous delivery to all residents of West Ardnamurchan of letters about the withdrawal of the nurses some time back. If the SAS's delivery route is the same as the one which will be used to respond to emergencies, I think we had better avoid all emergencies from now on. We are clearly "off the map" despite being right on the Sanna road ...

  2. We didn't receive anything yesterday, either, even though we have a large post box next to the gate, right beside the road, and a house name sign with VERY BIG letters.

    That's three times they've ignored us now.

    As Jenny says, I hope their ambulance drivers can do better.

  3. Like Jenny & Fiona, there has been no delivery of documents to the Old Dairy. Perhaps SAS think that the road to Sanna does not exist, the same way as they hope that we will go away!


  4. Personal response to my first comment from the immediate local area suggests that all of Achnaha and Sanna may have been ignored, as well as some other areas. As someone said to me this morning, it looks like we are being scammed.

    Does anyone get these deliveries? We thought at first that we had just been "overlooked", but obviously it is much more than that. These documents are not being circulated as claimed.

  5. We did not get any bundle of papers.

  6. I don't think we had better mention the fact that once again we didn't received any of the deliveries despite being in the centre of the village. Anon.

  7. And again from the north side, we have received none of the correspondence to date.

  8. Following on from all these comments, I am sure that the SAS staff who have delivered letters here recently have done their best. But the task is not easy. Even within Kilchoan, not all houses are easily visible from the road; in the remote townships, they are sometimes widely scattered. This raises an important issue. At the moment, our local nurses know where everyone lives, and can drive there quickly in an emergency. It would take an ambulance, locum GP or team nurse from another community much, much longer to find them, and that delay might cost a life. Modern location systems may help, but not always. For example, the whole area from Ockle to Fascadale - perhaps 5 hilly, twisty miles by pot-holed single-track road - has, to the best of my knowledge, exactly the same postcode.

    1. An excellent point. Even the drivers for local carriers who come out here regularly take ages to learn where every address actually is, and some have many aids to help them. For an unfamiliar address, they usually have to ask until they find someone who knows - not ideal for an emergency in the middle of the night ... The nurses' substantial local knowledge of both the place and the people has surely saved lives as well as preventing many emergencies from becoming more serious than they might be.

      But on your other point, I'm afraid there is little convincing evidence that the SAS staff did their best. They don't seem to have come out along the Sanna road at all - nor along some other roads (Sonachan is not exactly hard to find...). Four out of the five permanently occupied houses in Achnaha are right on the road, and the fifth is only slightly set back and highly visible. There's only one road, and no-one driving through Achnaha could possibly miss the occupied houses. But no deliveries seem to have reached Achnaha, either this time or previously.