THE HEAVY workload for staff at Lerwick Health Centre will be eased next year when a new doctor is appointed – despite concerns from some quarters over the extra cost burden the job will create.
Members of Shetland NHS agreed to employ the full-time GP along with a practice nurse when they met at the board’s headquarters in Brevik House on Tuesday.
Medical director Dr Ken Graham said the town’s increasing population meant doctors and nurses were faced with ever-more patients on a daily basis.
The board heard that demands on the town’s health centre had risen steeply over the last three years. In April 2005 there were 2,705 appointments, compared with 3,991 in April this year – an increase of 47.5 per cent.
But doctors have had to juggle that with a similar increase in the number of house visits they have to make.
In April 2006, 119 house calls were made compared with 157 two years later.
With the number of people registered at around 9,500 and rising, Dr Graham said GPs at the health centre had more patients than the Scottish average.
The board was generally in support of the move for the new job appointments.But the calls for the new doctor and nurse did not meet with universal approval.
New board member Keith Massey questioned how the new posts could be met within the current budget laid down for the financial year.
“Is this a knee-jerk reaction to something going wrong in the practice or is it a long term strategy?” he asked.
Chief executive Sandra Laurenson said the appointments would not affect the board’s budget for this year, as it would be the next financial year before they were made.
“We are in a sense mortgaging ourselves for next year. But we are going in with the certain knowledge we have to cover those costs,” she added.
See this Friday’s Shetland Times for full story.