New medical director for NHS Shetland

A doctor from the Western Isles will be the new medical director at NHS Shetland.

Kirsty Brightwell, who is also associate medical director for NHS Western Isles, has been appointed and will take up the post in the summer.

Interim medical director Brian Chittick will continue in his role until Dr Brightwell has relocated, and will continue his core role as NHS Shetland’s dental director.

NHS Shetland chief executive Michael Dickson said he was “delighted” to welcome Dr Brightwell to the team, who brought a “deep understanding of the challenges of working in an island community”, and said Mr Chittick had been a “huge asset” to NHS Shetland.

“We are currently experiencing an unprecedented health emergency and I know her expertise and insights will be a huge benefit for our staff and the Shetland community,” Mr Dickson said.

New NHS Shetland medical director Kirsty Brightwell.

Dr Brightwell has worked with the North of Scotland Planning Group and the Scottish government to tailor healthcare towards a regional approach, and had been part of the team developing “Rediscover the Joy”, encouraging doctors to work in Scotland’s most remote communities.

The new appointment was announced at a press conference on Monday afternoon when Mr Dickson also gave a coronavirus update.

The number of confirmed cases in the isles remained static at 24 on Monday, according to Scottish government figures, with Mr Dickson adding that no patients were being treated at the Gilbert Bain Hospital for Covid-19.

Mr Dickson added that they do not know if there would be “further change over the coming days”.

“I think we are in the best position we can be right now,” he said.

Mr Dickson said he was unable to comment on the condition of a critically ill patient who was transferred by military plane to intensive care in Aberdeen on Sunday.

Using a military asset was not something “done lightly”, Mr Dickson said, indicating the level of demand that the Scottish Ambulance Service was currently experiencing, with the service “under enormous pressure”. The ambulance service was responsible for offering expert advice and decision making when it came to transferring patients.

On protective equipment provision for frontline NHS staff, Mr Dickson said it was about having the “right personal protective equipment” in the right place.

“It’s not without it’s challenges,” added Mr Dickson, who said they had moved from a “standing start” to the current situation in a really short time.

Making sure that the Gilbert Bain Hospital, care homes and other health and social services had enough of the right equipment was a “huge effort”, but the chief executive said the supplies department was working tirelessly to make sure it was in place.

It was not just NHS Shetland, but all health boards, that were “under huge pressure” to maintain supplies, Mr Dickson said.


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