Patients in the isles will see a different NHS Shetland in 10 years time – with discussions underway about changes to health services.
That was the view of chief executive Ralph Roberts following the first of a series of meetings to help shape the future of health and care in the isles.
More than 70 people attended including NHS staff, Integration Joint Board Members, SIC councillors, voluntary sector workers and patient groups.
Discussions were held about how services are provided through hospital and acute care, community health and social care, public health and the voluntary sector.
The meeting was not open to the public or press, however Mr Roberts sat down with the press on Monday to talk about the first session.
He said there was a lot of discussion including about transport links, clinically led changes in future, rather than management led changes, improving training opportunities in the isles and helping people to look after themselves too.
Financial pressures for the health board have been well documented, as well as the impact of an ageing population and “the demographic time bomb” with demands on the workforce.
However Mr Roberts welcomed the broad discussion, and said he felt “really positive” about the meeting.
“If you look at health and care system in Shetland we perform really, really well compared to most of the indicators that are out there. We can see the pressures on the system,” he said.
Mr Roberts said the health board wanted to continue to provide a high quality service and “if we want to continue to evolve the NHS that requires change.”
As a society, he also believed there needed to be consideration on “how much we’re willing to spend on health and care”.
But Mr Roberts also said if people were living longer in good quality health that would minimise the demand on the service.
People living longer and healthier also wanted to volunteer and participate in things too, he said, which was a more positive look at an ageing population.
Asked if Shetland will see a different health board in a decade’s time, he replied: “I think we will. But actually it’s pretty different now to what it was 10 years ago.”
Mr Roberts added: “If it it isn’t different then there’s something wrong”.
Change he said “shouldn’t be something we think of as automatically bad. This is a continuation of an evolving service. If you want services to continue to be the best they can be that requires you to continue to shape them from what is needed at that point from what’s needed before.”
The next scenario planning session will be on 28th February.
Once the meetings are complete the healthboard expects to provide more information to the community on its plans.