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31 July 2014
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Arnish Lighthouse

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Financial deficits

NHS Western Isles have admitted that their financial worries are not exactly helped by the deal given to a Barra GP: 300,000 per year. That is one tenth of the Health Board's current deficit.

The reason for this golden deal is that the doctor in question has to work alone, i.e. is on-call practically 24/7. Retention of professionals is a recognised problem within these islands. Hospital doctors training to be a consultant go through a number of hospitals in order to build up professional competence and experience. In some circles, a posting in Stornoway or Benbecula is regarded as a dead-end post, and not conducive to your career.

Getting consultants to come here on a permanent basis is equally difficult, for same reasons. Whilst the recruitment procedure takes its course, locums (temporary staff) are taken on to fill the gap. Late 2005, the cost of this was quoted as up to 11,000 per week. The Health Board has insisted that this only occurred during 4 weeks.

However, solving the recruitment and retention problems by paying professionals astronomical sums actually solves nothing. It is bad management, as it exacerbates the existing funding crisis. How the Health Minister can go on record to defend such practices remains beyond me.
Posted on Arnish Lighthouse at 18:53


300 000 may seem like an astronomical sum but that would be the same anywhere in the country with those sort of hours. Why should a western isle GP get paid any less for doing the same work? As has happened in many rural places - a single handed GP cannot balance family life with working 24/7 so they go and find another post. We are nationally short of GPs so that would not be difficult. How much will it cost to cover that GP's work using 2 locums when that GP 'burns out'? A lot more than 300 000, and that is if you could attract any locums!

happy doc from lake district

Happy Doc, I am not in the habit of getting personal towards individuals - in this case the sitting Barra GP. Suffice to say that local reports have him first denying that he earns £300k, denying that he posted this on a bulletin board under his username and password and subsequently advertising for a partner in the practice under the banner of being well-paid. As with so many things related to NHS Western Isles, this whole incident stinks to high heaven. And yet our health minister does a Pontius Pilate and washes his hands of the whole business. If not he, who can we call to account?

Arnish Lighthouse from Stornoway

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