THE only way is for an Easter Ross medical practice that has now ‘hit rock bottom’.
Strongman Luke Stoltman – who is leading a community campaign for improvements at the struggling Alness and Invergordon medical group – made blunt comments to the Journal ahead of further meetings with NHS Highland, which took over following a recruitment crisis and community unrest.
Mr Stoltman – who spoke for the first time over concerns about how his father, a patient there, was being treated – made his remarks following revelations that under the previous regime, some personnel screening procedures had not been properly carried out.
He said: “The big picture is that the whole community is getting the care they deserve. I think right now the community has low expectations. All they want is care. and the respect to which it is entitled.
“The state of training was appalling. It’s not going to be a magic bullet. I have the utmost confidence in the team now in place to fix it.
“They’ve come up with an action plan. With the last issue around disclosure controls, we’ve hit rock bottom and in a way that’s the best place to be because after that the only way is up. .
“On the positive side, the community is talking about it and holding people accountable. I think it’s possible we could see some changes in the next few months.
“I think we as a community have to take responsibility and keep talking and saying that we expect this to be the best practice in the country. We can ask ourselves what is the thing that we can do that would help the most locally, whether it’s a CT scan or whatever, and help make it happen.
“Positivity is needed. We must look to make this one of the best practices in Scotland and become a shining beacon. It’s not just the NHS that can do it, it’s all of us.”
He met Emma Rollo, head of primary health care at NHS Highland, and was due to meet Lyndsey McConnell, director of clinical care yesterday.
A spokesperson for NHS Highland, referring to the issue of disclosure verification and wider concerns, said: “The practice remains open with support from the wider community team. Proactive planning at the start over the past week has enabled our GPs, nurses and support colleagues to continue to provide clinical care to the local community.
“We are sorry for the delays encountered, but thank the community for their understanding and the clinical staff for their continued commitment at this time.
“We remain confident that as we progress with our internal developments, we will move into a much more stable position to provide a sustainable quality service to our community.”
Related: NHS Highland struggling to recruit staff for Easter Ross training
Call for inquiry into Easter Ross practice