New health model plan for island

Monday 29th July 2019

A new healthcare facility providing everything from weight management clinics to ‘virtual’ appointments is being planned for a Shetland Islands community.

Traditionally Bressay, which has a population of around 400, had a resident nurse who provided a first point of contact for round-the-clock healthcare instead of having a doctor based there.

But recruitment challenges means the post has been vacant since July 2017, with visiting services either being provided from Lerwick or patients having to travel to the island’s capital instead.

Bressay Community Council and Shetland’s Health and Social Care Partnership have been working together to provide a new model of care for the community.

The proposal is based on having a new healthcare facility on the island, which can be used by a range of professionals to hold clinics such as for immunisations, smoking cessation and weight management.

It will also be equipped with videoconferencing technology to enable patients to have ‘virtual’ appointments with medics in Shetland, Aberdeen and Glasgow.

An emergency response service is also being established on the island over the coming weeks, with the aim of providing support during evenings and weekends.

Residents have been asked to give their views on the plans, which will be presented at a meeting of the Integration Joint Board (IJB) in September.

Alistair Christie-Henry, chairman of Bressay Community Council, says it had become clear to islanders than a new approach was needed:

“Over the last few years, the Bressay community has become increasingly aware that the service of a dedicated resident health professional, able to continue their work as their predecessors did, has become untenable.

“The Community Council engaged with the Health and Social Care Partnership to find the best way to support present needs and deliver future services.

“This has involved finding out what is presently required, anticipating future needs, understanding what is presently available and publicising this to the community.”

Edna Mary Watson, chief community nurse and leader of the project team, said it was the first time the Health and Social Care Partnership had worked on a project jointly sponsored with a local community council.

She added the work had been enhanced by the “active engagement of both the community council and the community themselves.”