Future of Bixter Health Centre secured

Bixter Health Centre is to be taken over by Scalloway Health Centre, it was announced yesterday.

The move secures the future of the West Side practice, and services will continue there without a break.

Chairman of the board of NHS Shetland Ian Kinniburgh said the news brought “stability” to the situation, as there had been fears that the Bixter area would be left without a GP following the departure of Caroline Hinton, and this had caused concern.

The move was “good news for patients,” Mr Kinniburgh said, and he hoped the surgery would go “from strength to strength”.

He explained that until Scalloway GP Paul Veenhuizen got everything “up and running”, the health centre at Bixter would be manned by locum GP Mark Aquilina.

“Caroline stepped down and Mark stepped in,” he said.

Mr Kinniburgh said: “Scalloway Health Centre was successful in their bid to take over the [Bixter] Health Centre.

“I’m delighted and this brings certainty going forward. I’m delighted for the community because concerns had been expressed.”

Mr Kinniburgh said that the takeover created “resilience”, and strengthened both the Bixter practice and the Scalloway one, which is run by Dr Veenhuizen and his GP wife Philippa.

However, at least one other GP will have to be recruited to run the Bixter practice – and recently a nationwide shortage of GPs has been widely reported.

Mr Kinniburgh said: “Paul [Veenhuizen] is very confident he can recruit another GP. Knowing that the practice is linked to another practice makes recruitment more attractive.”

Dr [Paul] Veenhuizen will become GP principal and run the two health centres as a combined practice.

Mr Kinniburgh added that Bixter would continue as an “independent” practice, contracted to the health board, rather than an NHS salaried one.

According to the community, it had been a “very stable” single-handed practice, with only four changes of doctor over more than 50 years.

Mr Kinniburgh said combining with Bixter made the future of Scalloway Health Centre look “very positive” after the widespread public concern a couple of years ago that it would be damaged by the loss of its pharmacy.

That happened when legislation about provision of pharmacies changed, and the fear was that the loss of income would badly affect the health centre.

Scalloway Health Centre is now due to move into new purpose-built premises in the former primary school.

Dr Veenhuizen said: “I am really pleased to have been awarded the contract and look forward to working with the staff at Bixter to continue to deliver the high quality of service patients in the area have always had. I would also reassure patients in both Scalloway and Bixter that it will be very much a case of business as usual.”

NHS Shetland chief executive Ralph Roberts said: “We are very pleased that we received excellent tenders from a number of practices who were keen to provide a service to the Bixter patients and I would like to thank them.

“We are confident that the practice will provide an excellent service to the local population and should provide a long term solution to primary care services in Bixter. I am also grateful to the staff in the practice who have continued to provide the service through a period of uncertainty.”


Add Your Comment
  • iantinkler

    • July 10th, 2015 15:42

    Just a small point to ponder, as a resident of Bixter, and a parent, just whom is my GP now? I understand that under the latest piece of SNP dictate, all Scottish children will have to have a “Named Person”, usually their GP, to police their parenting skills . This named person will oversee the upbringing of their children with absolute power to intervene if he or she feels the raising of their children is in any way dubious or not up to standard. I find this rather a matter of concern, as I have no idea whom my GP now is. I would hate this named person to be a total stranger.

    • Robert Sim

      • July 10th, 2015 23:53

      Ian, the Named Person is not “usually” the child’s GP. In fact, that will never be the case. It is the Health Visitor in the pre-school years and then the headteacher until the age of 18. Other corrections: the named person is not there to assess parenting skills but simply to ensure that a single record is kept of any concerns and that no child slips between the net of the various agencies; they will not “oversee the upbringing of children”; and they do not have “absolute power to intervene” with the way in which children are being brought up. I hope that helps to clear things up.

  • Robin Stevenson

    • July 10th, 2015 17:04

    Firstly Ian, what age is this child or children that you’re so worried about? You do know [I assume] that the “Named person scheme” stops when the child, or young person, is 18? You do also know that it is not just one person throughout the child’s [or young person’s] early life, but various people, from mid-wives, to health workers, to primary teachers, teachers, GP,s or whoever the child feels most comfortable talking to?
    So the chances of it being a “total stranger” are somewhat remote.


  • iantinkler

    • July 10th, 2015 19:11

    Robin, the “youngest child” I am worried about is 14 years old, a young adult lady , no way a child.. You state; “from mid-wives, to health workers, to primary teachers, teachers, GP,s or whoever the child feels most comfortable with”, I am sure the child will really know and feels most comfortable with the Mid Wife!!! Get your head away from where the sun dos not shine, Robin Stevenson. Feels comfortable with the mid wife, sure. The young lady I am worried about, feels most comfortable with me, wow, better call the police!!


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