MSP critical of health board during isles visit

Tory MSP Douglas Ross has criticised NHS Shetland’s decision to have patients travelling to Aberdeen for medical appointments go by boat.

In his first visit to Shetland since being elected as a list member for the Highlands and Islands Mr Ross called the moves, which generated a severe backlash locally, “very concerning”.

He said that he understood the local NHS had to cut costs but said that “patient care has to come first”. He had heard of cases where people who make regular trips to the mainland for recurring treatments were saying they would choose no treatment at all over a regular ferry journey.

“I’ve used the ferry and I’ve used flights to come up,” Mr Ross said. “What I can say is that the ferry journey was not a pleasant experience because of the weather on that particular night.

“I don’t think patients who are unwell should be forced to use the boat to travel to the mainland in potentially unpleasant conditions.

“I hope the NHS board strongly reconsider based on the strength of feeling around this.”

Another local issue which has recently provoked strong reactions is the proposed 21-turbine windfarm on the outskirts of Lerwick recently announced by Peel Energy.

Members of Sustainable Shetland, a group strongly opposed to the controversial Viking Energy project, have already objected to the project based on its “significant” size.

Mr Ross said that his party had a “balanced energy policy” which supported onshore wind technology in moderation, alongside nuclear, fossil and other renewables.

“We believe there should be a mix and in terms of wind energy projects we feel they should only go ahead if they are of an appropriate scale and in an appropriate location.”

During his last visit to Shetland, prior to being elected, Mr Ross correctly predicted that the Conservatives were in a position to become Scotland’s main opposition party.

Reflecting on that he said he felt the Tories benefited from presenting themselves as the only party “unequivocally” in favour of the union.

A “reluctant remainer”, Mr Ross also felt that the SNP was wrong to pursue a second independence vote so soon after the first based on the result of the EU referendum.

He said: “What does bother me is that my remain vote is being used as an excuse for a second independence referendum.

“I don’t think anyone at the time thought that their vote would be used for or against staying in the UK.”

Addressing the personal controversies he experienced during his first year in Holyrood, Mr Ross defended his three jobs, a matter which has seen him come in for criticism from his parliamentary peers.

In the case of his role as a Moray councillor he said he had continued in the role since his election to Holyrood without accepting a wage for his efforts. He added that he would not be seeking re-election.

More controversially Mr Ross has continued to work as a football referee, a job which saw him unable to attend a justice committee meeting in the Scottish Parliament – despite being his party’s justice spokesman – because he was officiating at a Champions League fixture in Lisbon.

This led opposition MSPs to call for him to stand down from his frontbench position.

But during his visit to Shetland Mr Ross defended his decision to keep refereeing, a job which earns him up to £40,000 each year according to the Scottish Parliament’s register of interests.

“I think it’s positive for politicians to have an outside interest”, he said, adding that his role as an MSP remained his “number one priority.”

Mr Ross held three surgeries during his two-day visit. He also had meetings with former SIC convener Malcolm Bell, former political leader Gary Robinson and police chief Lindsay Tulloch, among others.


Add Your Comment
  • Ian Tinkler

    • April 15th, 2017 10:29

    West Ward Shetland. Our Health Services cut to shreds. No Air Transport for sick patients. No West Side dedicated Community Psychiatric Nurse. No full-time West Side Health Visitor. No practice Physiotherapist. No guarantee Bixter surgery to remain open!
    Autonomous neighbor Faroe;
    “Any sick patient, more than two hours by ferry from a hospital, has the right of helicopter transport by Atlantic Airlines (Faroes own airline). Any ill patient, not just emergency Casualty evacuations.”
    Autonomous Isle of Man;
    “The Patient Transfer team can book air or sea travel to the UK for you.”. Autonomous The States of Jersey;
    “Department of Health & Social Services, In most cases, travel to the UK will be by air and by the most direct route possible”.
    the Gibraltar Health Authority.
    Air Transport to UK and Spain as normal.
    Just remember we have a Council election pending. Shetland is being devastated by cuts in funding and centralisation. Fight for change.
    Ian Tinkler, candidate West Ward Shetland.

    • Martyn Neeson

      • April 17th, 2017 1:31

      Reading what you write Ian is similar to getting teeth pulled! Pipe down old man

      • Ian Tinkler

        • April 17th, 2017 10:43

        Martyn Neeson, I am standing for the Council. That makes it imperative and a duty that I let people know the truth as it is. I am sure some may be happy, for political reasons, for the truth hidden. To have our Health Board discretely reducing services, telling no one. Candidates hide or lie about Rural Schools being under threat of closure again and lie about whether or not they will support them, also not to mention, that there are no plans for new social housing on the Westside when 300 new homes planned for Lerwick!
        Martyn Neeson, are you aware or do you just not care that that West Side Shetland medical services decimated? No West Side dedicated Community Psychiatric Nurse. No full-time West Side Health Visitor and no guarantee the Bixter Surgery will remain open! I am sorry if you feel the truth is like getting teeth pulled, but do not let it worry, no West Side dentist or dental surgery for that matter either!

  • Haydn Gear

    • April 17th, 2017 12:29

    Is Ian Tinkler the only person in Shetland intent on fighting for the rights of the residents? If there are many who lie low and remain silent , then I hope they put a X next to his name when they vote. If things are left to the likes of Martyn’s Neeson health service deprivation will get worse . More strength to Ian Tinkler’s elbow !! Everybody will benefit in the end.

  • Haydn Gear

    • April 17th, 2017 12:34

    That should have been Martyn Neeson’s of course not Martyn’s Neeson.

  • Daisy Leask

    • April 17th, 2017 13:13

    Hey politicians, how about instead of criticising the care sector, you do your jobs RIGHT so that the NHS is never under pressure such as this again?
    It’s all mirrors and talk otherwise, be annoyed at things but do nothing to aid the service providers.

    • Ian Tinkler

      • April 17th, 2017 14:05

      Well, Daisy Leask, if I become a politician, I will do just what you ask. As of now, I am a working Health Professional and Shetland Crofter. After a near lifetime of NHS work, I left the Health Board, and as such the press gagging clauses, inflicted on all NHS staff, no longer apply to me, so I can say it like it is. I am not criticizing care workers, just their political masters, and their lackeys. Just for your information I have visited both Westside Shetland Medical Surgeries and liaised with their staff. Also a large number of past and present Shetland Health professionals are my patients and friends, so my knowledge is literally from the horse’s mouth (joys of being a Dental Surgeon!). Their comments are absolutely confidential but please note, Shetland Health Board has not contradicted a word I have written, that tells its own story.
      Ian Tinkler, West Ward Candidate, Shetland

  • Debra Nicolson

    • April 18th, 2017 9:54

    Dear Daisy, I am a candidate for Shetland West and if elected I would seek a place on the Integration Joint Board that oversees social care in Shetland. I have personal experience of both mental health and physical health care in Shetland, and I have, in the past, had talks with health officials, quite often just feeling like I’m hitting my head off of a brick wall. Saving money is a priority at the moment as uncontrolled spending is not sustainable in this current climate but there is more than one solution to a problem. I’d like very much to work within the community to generate ideas and find cost saving solutions that do not impact too harshly on the community. Debra.


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