22nd September 2018
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Island ‘devastated’ by sudden death of young locum doctor

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A popular locum GP, Michael Irvine, has been named as the 34-year-old man who died suddenly in his cottage in Whalsay on Sunday.

Dr Irvine had been working in the island as a semi-permanent locum for the past nine months while NHS Shetland sought a permanent doctor for the Whalsay practice. Dr Irvine had also worked as a locum GP in Lerwick Health Centre on numerous occasions.

In a short statement NHS Shetland said it was “shocked and saddened” to learn of his death. It is understood that Dr Irvine had complained of feeling unwell a couple of days before his death, but there had been no indication of any serious health problem.

Chief executive of NHS Shetland Ralph Roberts said: “We are very sad to have heard this news. Dr Irvine was a very well liked and respected colleague and our thoughts are firstly with his family at this time. We also understand this is a difficult time for our staff and the community and will be working closely to support them.”

Police went to Whalsay to investigate the death on Sunday morning and released his name today after his next of kin had been notified. A report has been submitted to the procurator fiscal.

Whalsay man Michael Simpson, who rented Dr Irvine the cottage next door and had come to know him well, described him as a “very bubbly, young, fit and energetic” man. “The whole island is just devastated by what has happened. You don’t expect someone of that age, especially a doctor, to die like that.”

He said that as well as practicing medicine, Dr Irvine, one of three brothers, was training to be a pilot and had shown him plans for flights he had done. “I suppose we had become a bit of a home-from-home for him. He would just give you this big smile and always be pleased to see you. He fitted in really well in Whalsay.”

NHS Shetland said alternative locum arrangements were being put in place to provide cover for the Whalsay community in the interim. A new permanent GP, Dr Wilfred Treasure, is due to begin working at the practice on 31st October.

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