I attended a meeting in Caithness General Hospital yesterday along with Dr Paul Monaghan MP to discuss how NHS Highland plan to take forward health services in the far north. We talked about the maternity unit as a priority and how the staff are getting on with the reconfiguration. We learned that the midwives have requested to go to an on-call service overnight to allow them to staff the unit through the day when they are most needed. They are aware of the needs of the pregnant women in their care and see this as a positive step to help manage the workload.
We also talked about the Scottish Government's National Health and Social Care Delivery Plan and how health services need to change to cater for the needs of an ageing population. The vision is to get away from dependency on hospital beds and to see more community based care. This will only be achieved with a solid model of care at home packages and an increased number of staff. Currently there are older people in hospital that really don't need to be there but we need to ensure they are adequately looked after when they are discharged. This can only be done by having an in depth look at where the money is currently spent and discussions are ongoing about how it can be redistributed.
We also discussed the relationship between the NHS and the Scottish Ambulance Service, how they interact with the public, response times and other health services. The importance of a team of health professionals and others such as first responders is key to community service provision.
In a remote rural area such as Caithness and Sutherland, it's important that we take collective responsibility as a community and make sure that our elderly and our young, our sick and vulnerable people are not alone and that they receive the best care possible. The staff that work in our NHS are amazing people that give us a level of service that is the envy of the world and we appreciate everything they do.