Islanders have responded to Tavish Scott’s health survey by asking for better healthcare. 900 families and individual’s have shared their direct experience of the NHS. Mental health, GP services, dentists and travelling south for care all featured in the survey sent to every household across Shetland. The survey showed that 75% of islanders have to wait more than a month to see a dentist, 73% of islanders want better mental health services and GP services carry 90% of the NHS workload with only 11% of the NHS budget. NHS Shetland faces a £400,000 deficit and is underfunded by £900,000 a year under the Scottish Government’s own funding formula.
Tavish Scott said, “The fact that 900 people have completed a survey on health is staggering. This shows how important the NHS is to people. The personal accounts that islanders have shared have shown me what areas need work, investment and improvement. I want to thank all those who took time to respond. It is disappointing that our health service is under so much financial pressure. Hard working and committed NHS staff across the local health service have told me about the pressures they face. The most obvious indication of that is recruiting key medical staff such as doctors.
“The biggest challenge is recognising the importance of tackling the growing demand for mental health services. More people need to receive mental health care and attention. So the NHS needs to be given the resources to ensure care is available to those who need it. The survey also shows that people have been waiting up to 7 years to be registered to see a dentist. Getting an appointment seems difficult unless people have an emergency. So that needs to improve.
“People want to stop travelling unnecessarily to Aberdeen for appointments. The NHS should use more video conferencing to save money and make consultations with specialist staff happen quicker and more efficiently. Instead of telling people to use the boat to Aberdeen, the NHS needs to ensure as many health services as possible can be delivered here in Shetland. People also want to know their own medical records will always be up to date and available to any nurse, doctor or consultant they are meeting. There are delays in this. Some parts of the health service are dictating letters. People tell me they are waiting weeks for a letter confirming what is going to happen. In the age of email and texts this can surely improve.
“Finally I want to see an end to the command and control nature of the NHS. NHS Shetland must conform to central government dictat. This week Parliament’s Health Committee has said that centrally driven targets are not improving patient care. Yet the instruction from Edinburgh is jump. Instead of asking how high, we should concentrate on how best to improve health services from a Shetland perspective, not an Edinburgh one. A good place to start would be arguing for the a fair deal on health spending which Shetland does not currently receive.”