Health centre takes steps towards improvement

Improvements are being made at the heavily criticised Lerwick Health Centre to cut waiting times for appointments and make for a more efficient service.

Healthcare assistants will now be able to take blood at the time the patient attends, usually without having to make another appointment.

This is the first of five key recommendations raised by the Shetland Public Partnership Forum (PPF) following a survey last year, which revealed widespread dissatisfaction with the centre, Shetland’s biggest, with around 900 patients.

PPF chairman Harold Massie called the fact one of the suggestions was being addressed a “very, very positive development”.

He said: “We asked for more co-ordination between different services, and a healthcare assistant will usually be there when patients are there.

“This is the first of our requirements to come to fruition, and we’re very pleased with the progress.”

This week the post of a practice manager to run the centre has been advertised – this was another recommendation from the PPF.

Additionally, the waiting area will be revamped with a television for people to watch, and the reception area will have more privacy with glass panels, and a lower desk for wheelchair users. Money has been found in the revenue budget for these measures.

A proposal is also being examined to provide a team of advanced nurse practitioners (ANPs) to work at the surgeries, backed up by a doctor. This would provide many more appointments and should ensure that everyone can be seen on the day.

Mr Massie said ANPs could do 80 per cent of what doctors could do, and four ANPs could deal with around 40 appointments a week.

The PPF is hoping that the fifth recommendation, for funding for evening and weekend surgeries, may also become reality.

However, this is hindered by government legislation, which forbids extra funding for practices, such as Lerwick’s, staffed by health board employees. Other isles practices are independent, and thus would qualify for the funding.

The PPF, which feeds public concerns into NHS Shetland, is pleased that the survey is producing results. In it, around 78 per cent of respondents said they were unhappy with the appointment system, with more than half waiting more than two weeks for a pre-booked appointment.

• See full story in tomorrow’s Shetland Times.


Add Your Comment
  • Rachel Buchan

    • July 18th, 2014 1:07

    I, for one, will not be asking for an appointment with a healthcare assistant to take my blood (in fact I have already refused). They don’t have to have any kind of qualification to do this. It would be the same as me offering to take somebody’s blood – not acceptable.

  • David Spence

    • July 18th, 2014 16:39

    Rachel, welcome to a slight insight into what will be the private sector will be like if the vile Tories get their way and privatise the NHS. As well as this, apart from your doctor acting as an agent for the private pharmaceutical companies, it will also be the case the insurance company you are with (if indeed you can afford their extortionate fee’s and monthly fee subscription) that will dictate what medication you will be on and what treatment you will get……………the doctor, as said, will have very little input into your treatment……if indeed you can afford to get it……..remember, when it comes to health, this system prefer to keep you ill as it makes them greater profits……..and being fit and healthy is very much a no no.

    • Rachel Buchan

      • July 19th, 2014 1:51

      I know nothing about medical insurance but the NHS already acts as an agent for private pharmaceutical companies, and has done for years.

  • Kathleen Carolan

    • July 18th, 2014 17:34

    I just want to take this opportunity explain the role of the Healthcare Support Worker.

    At the Lerwick Health Centre, Healthcare Support Workers are trained to undertake a variety of activities including taking blood samples from patients. They receive the same training as Doctors and Nurses who take blood samples and undergo supervised practice whilst they are gaining these skills. Because they undertake these activities regularly they very proficient.

    Healthcare Support Workers also undertake other duties such as performing ECGs and again these skills are gained through practice under the supervision of registered practitioners (Doctors and Nurses).

    We will be doing more work over the coming months to explain the roles of staff in the Health Centre e.g. Support Staff, Advanced Nurse Practitioners, GPs and Practice Nurses as we think it is really important that people know about the roles and skills that the Health Centre Team have.

    I will not be answering comments via this website, but if you would like to know more about this, then please contact us via the Health Board email address and we can include your feedback in this promotional work.

    Kathleen Carolan, Director of Nursing & Acute Services
    NHS Shetland

    • Rachel Buchan

      • July 19th, 2014 1:44

      As I said above they do not have to have any formal qualification to do this. So it is the same as letting me watch a nurse do it a few times, and then attempting it myself. Not very safe! So I won’t be letting one of them take blood from me. “As yet, there are no specific national requirements for becoming an HCA. Some employers require literacy and numeracy skills. ” – that’s a direct quote from the RCN site.

    • John Tulloch

      • July 19th, 2014 12:36

      Nothing wrong with healthcare assistants as long as they’re adequately trained for what are, after all, fairly straightforward tasks, and it sounds as if they are.

      Better that the doctors have time to interpret the test results than waste time physically doing them.

      It’s the same reason generals don’t carry rifles with fixed bayonets.

      • Rachel Buchan

        • July 20th, 2014 12:50

        No I wouldn’t waste a doctor’s time with that. I’m perfectly happy with a nurse doing it, which is what I always request.

    • Suzy Jolly

      • July 20th, 2014 18:35

      I’m the victim of a Serious Untoward Incident at a major London hospital which involved a healthcare support worker. After months of counselling (funded by the NHS but the counselling sessions were with a private counsellor), I took the matter up with the then Health Secretary at Westminster (I found it difficult to talk about it, let alone write about it). Labour were in power at the time.

      If I had wanted to sue (which I didn’t, plus no amount of money would compensate for what I experienced), it would have been the Staff Nurse in charge of the ward at the time who would have faced disciplinary action by the RCN as there was no professional register for healthcare support workers/healthcare assistants.

      The Health Secretary confirmed that there was, indeed, a loophole in that there is no professional register and it was something they were working on closing – I’m not aware that there is now a professional register/body for healthcare support workers, be it UK-wide or one for England/Wales or if the Scottish NHS system has one in place.

      Just because someone has undertaken an NVQ isn’t enough in my book. Patients’ safety should be paramount and a professional body whereby a healthcare support worker could be disciplined/struck off in the same way that nurses and doctors can be should be in place.

      IMHO, health authorities use healthcare support workers as cheap labour.

      I, for one, definitely won’t be allowing a healthcare support worker to take my blood until such a professional register is in place.

  • Ali Inkster

    • July 19th, 2014 16:09

    Anybody that has been in the “care” of the NHS would probably agree that privatisation would be no bad thing.

    • Brian Smith

      • July 20th, 2014 10:04

      You should start a petition, Ali. I suspect you would get even less signatures than on your last one.

      • Ali Inkster

        • July 21st, 2014 15:41

        It has a few hundred and counting, Brian

    • Clive Munro

      • July 20th, 2014 11:14

      Ali, I’ve had extensive experience, over the last couple of years, of being in the “care” of the NHS and I certainly would not agree with your assertion that privatisation would be no bad thing.

    • Robert Sim

      • July 21st, 2014 0:43

      Everyone in the UK, Ali, has been in the care of the NHS since its inception but there is no popular voice demanding privatisation. While people might sound off in a forum like this, most folk are quite happy with the quality of care they receive. I guess everyone understands that we get an excellent deal in this country, in that the patient receives high-quality health care free at the point of delivery irrespective of their financial status.

    • Robert Lowes

      • July 21st, 2014 19:18

      Really? Because a study which looked at healthcare services throughout the developed world concluded that the National Health Service is the best across a variety of areas.

      Privatised health services, if taken to their extreme as in America lead to a two tier system where the poor and sick are completely disenfranchised. I depend on regular injections for my health. These were originally dispensed from the Gilbert Bain, but following a mandate from the Department of Health, the contract for delivery was handed to Healthcare at Home – a private company. Following a change in my medication, Healthcare at Home kept promising delivery dates for my new drug. Each time they failed to deliver. Phone calls got me nowhere, and it was only thanks to the intervention of senior pharmacists, doctors, managers at NHS Shetland and Alistair Carmichael that I finally received the drugs I needed – nearly two months late. Without their help, I suspect I would still have been waiting, as are thousands of other patients across the UK, who are currently still waiting for deliveries of treatments for MS, HIV/AIDS, and even immunosuppressants for organ transplants.

      I’ve had to stays in the GBA recently – one of these most likely due to not receiving my medication on time. On both occasions, the staff at the Gilbert Bain have been wonderful. I cannot say the same for the private delivery company who fob people off with broken promises and missed deadlines.

      Oh, and if I were paying for those drugs out of my own pocket? £1000 a month. More than I can afford. Luckily for you Ali, mental health is still the provision of the NHS. Might I suggest you have your head examined?

    • Rachel Buchan

      • July 22nd, 2014 7:42

      No I certainly wouldn’t agree with privatisation. It’s bad enough that the government is trying to go down that route anyway. Neither myself, nor my family, has had any problem with the service that the NHS provides.

  • John ridland

    • July 20th, 2014 21:15

    Ali. Maybe you should ask the many hunderds o folks whose lifes are saved by the wonderful NHS, EVERY DAY…..?

    • Ali Inkster

      • July 21st, 2014 16:02

      I certainly can’t ask the hundreds of folks who’s lives are lost every day because of late diagnosis, mis prescribed medication, overprescribed medication, contra prescribed mediction or the many many other reasons that folk die while in the “care” of the NHS. I could ask the many thousands who have been fobbed off with the its just a virus, that are now in the terminal stages of cancer.
      Or maybe we should just look at the life expectancy of the UK compared to the rest of the developed world, or the survival rates of NHS patients compared to private,

      • Brian Smith

        • July 21st, 2014 17:54

        Just a reminder that Ali thinks BUPA should replace the health service in an independent Shetland …

      • Ali Inkster

        • July 21st, 2014 23:15

        Just a reminder Brian I stated that BUPA would provide the same service for less money and Axa PPP will do it for even less.

      • Suzy Jolly

        • July 22nd, 2014 15:20

        I’ve had both private and NHS healthcare. I’d like the choice as to where my NI contributions get spent. There are some NHS consultants who do work privately but the attitude when you see them on a private basis is quite an eye opener; suddenly they develop decent bedside manners where previously they were lacking.

        I know people who have suffered misdiagnosis at the hands of the NHS and continue to suffer daily. Likewise, I know people who wouldn’t be alive today if they hadn’t had NHS treatment.

        The NHS is being destroyed by red tape and artificial targets being met. Do we really need Diversity Officers? Do we really need to have all these forms, which if we choose not to complete, the person processing it is instructed to guess your background in order to meet the requirements of legislation? In Germany, such a process is deemed illegal and they are exempt from this EU-driven legislation.

        Diabetes clinics, asthma clinics, smoking cessation clinics … the GPs get paid more if people attend and sign up to these and oh gosh, they must meet the government targets.

        Do we want to have the cancer screening test kits sent out to us as a 50th birthday present, despite the fact the NHS websites has wording along the lines of might detect blood which might indicate cancer? They churn out figures but don’t say how many people died despite having tests done and despite having treatment … or would the money be better spent on actually providing cancer treatment in the first place or alternatively, accepting that death is inevitable for all of us and that damage can be caused to the body by the treatment itself (are we delaying the inevitable?).

        Infertility treatment, tattoo removal, demands that if you want to change your gender you must see a psychiatrist; the whole postcode lottery as to who gets what treatment and yet some people can’t even get an appointment with a GP within a month?

        It doesn’t matter which party is in power, they’ve all contributed to its demise.

        I suspect that if GP services were privatised, it wouldn’t take long to suss out which ones were no longer in business as people voted with their feet. There are some absolutely excellent GPs out there and equally, some dire ones who, quite frankly, should have been struck off years ago.

  • David Spence

    • July 20th, 2014 22:57

    ‘ Anybody that has been in the “care” of the NHS would probably agree that privatisation would be no bad thing. ‘

    That is if you are in a position to pay for a service that exceedingly over-charges you, Ali.

    When it comes to private health care, profit to these money grabbing businesses is far more important than providing an adequate medical service and treatment.

    Ali, having the small business shop making a marginal profit pales into insignificance compared to the massive profits private medical care and treatment businesses make……….there is no comparison whatsoever.

    In many cases, these private health care/treatment practices have very little regulation, charging people well over the odds for what would be regarded as minor treatments, no proper regulation as to what medicines they can give to the patient (as said previously, the business aspect of medicine and the pharmaceutical industry are hand-in-hand with each other) and in many cases, patients are forced to sign a disclaimer (otherwise they will not get treated) that they will not sue the private medical company if it botches up the treatment the patient is getting………….something like 37% of botched up private medical treatment ends up being treated by the NHS…………….So Ali, the next time you need medical treatment for yourself or family, fly off to the States or Harley Street in London and lets see how much money is left in your bank account once you have paid the extortionate fee’s for your private medical needs……….I would suspect something like loose change would be the result……….and more than likely you’ll end up going to the NHS to clean up the botched up job you have received from your private health care provider lol

  • David Spence

    • July 20th, 2014 23:08

    FACT : Man cuts his finger doing joinery work, requires medical treatment and stitches. His Insurance company refuses to pay for the treatment, his treatment is the wound being cleaned, 4 stitches required, his bill from the private company $3,800.00

  • David Spence

    • July 22nd, 2014 19:39

    I also suspect Susan, that one of the other reasons why the NHS has so much red-tape, legislation, bureaucracy etc etc is because of our legal system and how it is that lawyers and solicitors are looking out for the quick buck in telling people all manner of rubbish so that they can then sue the NHS for the merest mistake or trivial action but all they see, the lawyers and solicitors (whose sole purpose is to line their own pockets, not giving a damn about the client they are supposed to represent) is dollars signs and tills ringing because their priority is making money and absolutely nothing else. Probably the biggest form of corruption is when our so-called legal system puts profits and greed ahead of anything else, and where the so-called compensation society prevails and does greater damage than anything else……all in the name of our legal representatives wanting to get richer and richer.

    Another aspect to the running down of the NHS, as is the case within England and Wales, is the complete breakdown of the NHS into smaller and smaller fragments, but makes greater money for the private companies who have taken over certain functions within the NHS, and where profit, greed and selfishness is the prevailing priority………….charge people double, triple the amount for a half-baked service, treatment, medication (again, people being ripped off big time by the pharmaceutical companies (who are in collaboration with the private doctors, medical companies)) where is the whole aspect of medical treatment for the patient is purely based on their bank account…………and nothing else.

  • Shuard Manson

    • July 23rd, 2014 1:11

    So if Ali Inkster has medical emergency phone BUPA? Good luck wi dat wan sunshine!


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