Three new psychiatric appointments have been made by NHS Shetland.
Medical director Roger Diggle today heralded the move as a “new era” for mental health in Shetland.
Two of the three appointments are straight replacements, with the third, a “speciality doctor” being a new role.
The child and adolescent mental health (CAMHS) doctor is currently having induction, and will come to Shetland for six sessions per month.
A new clinical psychiatrist, Martin Scholz, now working in Devon, will start work on 1st June.
The third post has been made to adult psychiatrist Almarie Harmse, who will start work on 1st July.
NHS Shetland chief executive Ralph Roberts said the successful appointments were “really good news. The increased capacity gives us a really good basis [for delivery of services].”
Mr Roberts added that the number of community psychiatric nurses (CPNs) had also been increased.
However a meeting of the board of NHS Shetland heard that there was increased demand for psychological therapies [from CPNs], possibly as a result of increased awareness of mental illness.
Meanwhile NHS Shetland is hoping to set up a “place of safety” for mental health patients in crisis, where they could stay for 24, 48 or even 72 hours prior to transfer south, if necessary. Mr Roberts said this place would be in the “community”, probably in Lerwick, but “not at home and not in hospital”.
The place would need to provide intensive staffing support, led by CPNs, together with healthcare support workers in a “mixed team”. Mr Roberts acknowledged the need would be “short-term and unpredictable”.
There is already a “place of safety” in the Gilbert Bain’s Hospital Ward 3, but NHS chiefs have been investigating an alternative for some time.
Money has been set aside for the place of safety to be established in the second half of this year. Mr Roberts said the money will come from the savings on the Scalloway Health Centre, which is due to open in the former primary department of Scalloway School in August. The Scottish government gave a capital grant of around £2.1 million for the health centre, which was given to the council for the project. The final costings were less than this amount.