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Rural medical cover concern in Scotland

17th February 2012

Rural communities in parts of Scotland are facing a care crisis because many medical staff are no longer required to work out of hours.

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On the islands of Islay and Jura, there is a shortage of GPs while residents on the Ardnamurchan peninsula are travelling to Edinburgh to meet the health minister to discuss their concerns at the withdrawal of two local nurses who are available for emergencies.

Doctors on the two islands have to be on-call one night in five, which is believed to be a factor deterring applicants.

One of the local doctors, Dr Angus McTaggart returned to Islay where he grew up, after completing his medical training in a move which he said caused surprise among a number of his contemporaries.

He said: “Colleagues maybe feel they're not equipped to deal with all the situations we have to deal with, particularly out of hours. The emergency department on Islay, which we cover, deals with everything from sprained fingers, to heart attacks, to car accidents.”

Following the new GP contract of 2004, where most GPs no longer have to be on call at evenings and weekends, many remote parts had found it difficult to recruit doctors who were still willing to work out of hours.

Islay residents have now decided to advertise for doctors willing to take on ‘an island parish’ and recruit people like Dr Chris Abell who moved there five years ago from England.

“I came here because I wanted to go back to a more old-fashioned type of general practice,” he said.

 

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