Vital medical services hit on Arran by staff crisis

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By Colin Smeeton

GP appointments and other medical services are being cancelled as a result of a staff crisis at the Arran Medical Group.

NHS Ayrshire and Arran confirmed that ‘urgent measures’ have been put in place to ensure ongoing patient care.

However, patients have been warned that the practice may need to cancel appointments at short notice or arrange a telephone consultation rather than a face-to-face appointment.

And it has warned that the situation may last for a number of weeks.

The staffing crisis is the result of illness and a number of members of staff having to self-isolate following contact with a positive case of Covid-19.

The interruption to health services comes as the island braces itself for the ‘likely tsunami’ of Covid-19 cases in the weeks ahead as a result of the fast spreading Omicron variant.

Already the number of positive cases on the island has jumped to 12, latest official figures show.

First news of the crisis came when the Arran Medical Group posted on social media this week a note which read: ‘Our team is currently being impacted by illness and self-isolation, this may mean that we need to cancel appointments at short notice, or arrange a telephone consultation rather than a face-to-face appointment.

‘We envisage this situation may last for a number of weeks and ask that you bear with us during this time.

‘Please be assured that if you have an urgent matter you will be able to speak to a GP and will be seen if appropriate.’

Craig McArthur, NHS East Ayrshire health and social care director, said in a statement given to the Banner: ‘A number of staff within Arran Medical Group are currently self-isolating following contact with a positive case of coronavirus.

‘The practice is following public health guidance and urgent measures are being put in place for ongoing patient care.

‘Patients can continue to telephone the practice on 01770 600516 where they will be triaged and offered remote consultations where appropriate.

‘If a patient is assessed as requiring an urgent in-person consultation, this will be arranged at the practice.

‘We thank Arran Medical Group patients for their continued patience during this current situation.

‘For anyone with non-urgent health care needs, more information on self-care is available at NHS Inform at or, your local pharmacy, dental practice or optician may be the most appropriate route to treatment and care.

Meanwhile, Arran’s vaccination clinic held on Sunday went smoothly with patients reporting a quick and efficient service.

The mass clinic was for all people aged 18 to 49 who were due their booster shot and for 12- to 17-year olds who were due their second vaccination.

In addition to the booster appointments, AMG also invited anyone who had not booked to drop in on Sunday afternoon to receive a booster and this offer was repeated on Wednesday.

NHS Ayrshire and Arran has also confirmed that visiting in all of its hospitals has, once again, been suspended owing to demands placed on the facilities and concerns over Omicron.

Jennifer Wilson, interim nurse director, said: ‘Rising community prevalence of the new Covid variant, Omicron, and the current demand for hospital services means we must once again restrict visiting to all our hospitals.

‘In order to limit the spread and maintain the safety of all our patients and staff, we have had to make the difficult decision to suspend visiting to essential visits only.

‘We know how difficult it is to be separated from loved ones, particularly at this time of year.

‘But please be assured that all decisions about visiting are made with the safety of the patient and the visitor in mind.

‘We will be regularly monitoring the situation and will look forward to welcoming back visitors as soon as it is safe to do so.

‘We truly appreciate how difficult this will be for our patients and their families, but ask for your co-operation to keep everyone safe.’

Exceptional reasons for visits will still be considered on a case-by-case basis and ward staff will facilitate virtual visiting using technology such as video calling. This can be arranged by contacting the ward directly.