15th December 2019
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Double blow for mental health service as two psychiatric doctors quit NHS Shetland

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Shetland’s two psychiatric doctors, who were only hired after an extensive recruitment programme two years ago, have both resigned.

NHS Shetland has announced that doctors Martin Scholtz and Almarie Harmse have both decided to leave the isles and pursue career opportunities elsewhere in the UK.

The news will come as a headache for NHS Shetland’s already stretched mental health service.

In a statement released this afternoon, Dr Scholtz, the clinical director for the service, said the decision to move away from the isles was a difficult one to reach.

“We have enjoyed being part of the Shetland community, and the decision to move on was always going to be a difficult one to make.

“We are pleased to have experienced living and working in Shetland, and to help with the development of the mental health service.”

NHS Shetland says both doctors are keen to work with it to secure successors during their notice period.


We will do our utmost to provide a seamless service, and the remainder of the mental health team will support this. RALPH ROBERTS


Ralph Roberts promised NHS Shetland will do its best to attract new psychiatrists to the posts. Photo: Rosalind Griffiths

Chief executive Ralph Roberts has stressed his determination to ensure the service is maintained.

“We will secure psychiatric input to the service, both in the short and longer term, for existing and new patients,” he said.

“We will do our utmost to provide a seamless service, and the remainder of the mental health team will support this. We are aware of the recruitment challenges for psychiatrists across Scotland, so we are competing with a number of other areas for these specialists. We will market Shetland’s attractiveness for both work and lifestyle.”

Meanwhile, interviews are taking place this week and next for a clinical nurse manager and a head of service position. NHS Shetland says it hopes to make announcements about those posts very soon.

About Ryan Taylor

Ryan Taylor has worked as a reporter since 1995, and has been at The Shetland Times since 2007, covering a wide variety of news topics. Before then he reported for other newspapers in the Highlands, where he was raised, and in Fife, where he began his career with DC Thomson. He also has experience in broadcast journalism with Grampian Television. He has lived in Shetland since 2002, where he harbours an unhealthy interest in old cars and motorbikes.

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  1. Gordon Downing

    Given the endemic bullying culture within nhs Shetland they were more than likely bullied out of there positions. Although NHS shetland deny bullying is endemic. It does go on and many staff including senior management, have been bullied out of the organisation

  2. ian tinkler

    Just what is going on with our fully devolved Scottish NHS? I was accused of being too negative in the recent SIC council elections when I highlighted are diminishing Primary Care services. Clearly, I had a point. Twenty years ago my family was torn apart by postnatal mental illness. Then we had a full-time Westside Health Visitor, a full-time Westside Psychiatrist Comunity Nurse and a Shetland bassed Consultant Physiatrist. Now we have a next to nothing; even our Bixter Surgery has no guarantee of remaining open! This is what our independence driven SG/SNP has given us. Remember this at the forthcoming elections, ask Miriam Brett, what our former Scotish Secretary of Health and now first Minister was doing to our Health service? This has all happened on Sturgeon’s watch. This is a situation which is unacceptable. PS Does Northlink run a ferry service to Cornhill


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