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Health chiefs on Arran have admitted they can’t cope with the demand for the care at home support needed on the island.
They have also apologised for the delays being caused because the Care at Home Service has a long waiting list due to the far greater on-island demand.
The admission comes after the case of a 90-year-old Arran woman, whose family were refused care, was raised at First Minister’s Questions last week by West of Scotland Conservative MSP Jamie Greene.
Mr Greene told First Minister Nicola Sturgeon he had been contacted by the woman’s family after being told it was ‘not possible’ for her to receive home visits due to a shortage of staff on Arran.
Mr Greene said the woman has poor eyesight due to macular degeneration, memory loss and mobility issues. As a result, he said: ‘Her family requested social care at home and was told that this is not possible due to staff shortages on the island, despite having been assessed as requiring it several times a day.’
At FMQ’s Ms Sturgeon said she did not know the details of the case but told Mr Greene it ‘certainly raises concerns in my mind’. She urged him to pass the woman’s details to her office and that of health secretary Jeane Freeman, and added: ‘I can give an undertaking we can look into that as quickly as possible.’
After the meeting Mr Greene said: ‘It is extremely concerning that an elderly resident in such a fragile condition was denied the social care she needed because of staff shortages in the NHS.
‘Thankfully Nicola Sturgeon has agreed to look into this matter and hopefully resolve it, but this should never have been needed to be brought to the First Minister of Scotland.
‘Staff shortages are an ongoing issue in NHS Ayrshire and Arran and have a profound impact on social and health provision.
‘Free social care to over-65s is a flagship of the Scottish Government and a core manifesto commitment that isn’t being delivered. I will continue to press this issue in parliament until it is resolved.’
The care at home service on Arran is the responsibility of the North Ayrshire Health and Social Care Partnership.
A spokeswoman said: ‘While we are unable to comment on individual cases, we are really very sorry for any delay that people experience in accessing care at home support.
‘Regrettably, our Care at Home Service has a waiting list for services on Arran. The waiting list is reviewed on a daily basis by senior partnership staff to ensure that all available capacity is used to support people appropriately on Arran.
‘Additionally, our Care at Home Service receives a high volume of referrals each day, and the requests on Arran are far greater than the capacity available. We are continually recruiting for care at home staff on Arran to help meet the on-island demand.
‘Please be assured that senior partnership staff will continue to review new referrals and waiting lists on a daily basis.
‘Our sincere apologies for any distress being caused to people on Arran, and their families, due to delays being experienced in receiving care at home.’
A Scottish Government spokesman added: ‘We are working with North Ayrshire Health and Social Care Partnership to identify how the needs of this elderly lady can be satisfactory met.
‘We also continue to work with local authorities to look more widely at workforce issues and planning in island or rural communities.’