For 999 emergencies, we would have a team of a minimum of six Emergency Responders. This would consist of our two nurses, Carolyn Ellis and the new Avril MacGregor, an ambulance technician who currently lives in Fort William but would like to live here, and three local 'volunteers' with pre-existing medical experience. The skills set to which they would be trained would be high. They would have things like airwave radio, would be able to offer ECG, and there would be a thorough evaluation by an outside body. All of these, if delivered, would be good.
There are, however, some questions which immediately arise. Firstly, and most importantly, this is not a 'model' but a hurried scraping together of a few people to might be able to fill the yawning gap. A whole load of assumptions were made by the NHS officials about who would actually be available
What we need, and what we have asked for, is a full description of the 'team' which must be put in place, so that the necessary personnel can then apply for the jobs. It is no good saying that Avril 'hopes' to relocate to West Ardnamurchan from Ballaculish and has 'expressed an interest' in joining the team, nor that the ambulance technician has indicated he wants to come here from Fort William. And are there three volunteers - we don't know of any? We have to have guaranteed posts into which people are appointed - the point that Graham Crerar made so well.
The second question is whether these people will deal with incidents which fall outside the 999 category, what might be called NHS24 referrals. In the new 'model', the doctors will have to take all these over - and that's why they want to opt out, because the nurses have saved them endless trips down the peninsula by dealing with many of them.
Finally, do we trust the NHS to deliver? The experience of the Emergency Responders wasn't good. Worse, local trust has been deeply eroded in the shambles of this 'consultation' process.
What was largely omitted from discussion was all the many other things our nurses do. One which was mentioned in passing by Gill McVicar was that the two West Lochaber nurses, Carolyn and Avril, would start each day in Kilchoan, picking up events from the previous 24 hours. This is nothing like the service we currently get, but it's a small start. Nothing was defined however, and I am long past accepting the vague promises of NHS officials.
Another aspect of their work which was only briefly mentioned is what they do for the doctors. The only comment I recall was one made by Gill McVicar when someone suggested they should pick up on things like minor injuries which happened overnight. The idea that 'her' nurses should do this was categorically rejected. So much for an NHS united at the point of service in the way in which it has been, for some 100 years, under our District Nurses.
What we have asked for is the whole thing laid out in writing, so we know exactly, and in detail, what the nursing service will be like out here. The trouble is that time is running out on us. Jessie retires in eleven days.