Medical Staff Caithness General
11 December 2001

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Medical Staffing at Caithness General Hospital

Advertising commenced in early November to recruit a Consultant Obstetrician to replace Dr Adam Gordon. The advertisement appeared in the BMJ and the Hospital Doctor with a closing date of 14 December. Local community groups were involved and consulted about the recruitment advertisement, during recent meetings to discuss medical staffing issues at Caithness General Hospital.

Mr Richard Carey, Chief Executive has written to local community groups to inform them of the resignation of another Caithness General Consultant, Dr Eugene D'Silva. Dr D'Silva stresses that he has enjoyed his time living and working in Caithness, but that he has decided to take up a post in India, to be near to his family.

The trust is now receiving enquiries from applicants interested in the recruitment advertisement and it is hoped that two consultants may be appointed to fill both vacancies. If both posts cannot be filled immediately, locum cover will provided on an interim basis and further attempts will be made to recruit to any vacant post.

Following the retiral of Dr Burns, emergency paediatric cover is being provided by Dr Farquhar who works on a seven day on, seven day off basis.  When paediatric cover is not available, the Wick-based Consultant Obstetricians are undertaking an individual risk assessment of each patient according to protocols. This means that a very small number of patients may be transferred to Raigmore Hospital prior to delivery, who may otherwise have given birth safely locally, until the midwives and other clinical staff are fully trained and able to provide paediatric cover.

Midwives, obstetricians and anaesthetists have undertaken a neonatal life support course that has been specially adapted to local needs.  This includes elements on stabilisation and transfer as well as neonatal resuscitation.  Additional training is now underway in skills such as resuscitation and feeding of premature babies, by two additional Neo-natal Nurse Practitioners who joined the Trust in September.

This investment in Neo-natal Nurse practitioner posts and training for midwives is part of a package of measures, aimed at improving maternity services for women and their babies, throughout Highland.

Referral guidelines are in place so that higher risk deliveries are carried out at specialist centres with the back-up services of a Special Care Baby Unit and Paediatricians. This ensures the highest level of safety for both mother and baby.

Mr Carey said -
"I understand that these are serious issues causing concern to various individuals in the Caithness area. I hope to attend the first meeting of the new Caithness Health Forum in January, where these issues can be discussed and clarified with community leaders, including Health Council members. By this time we should also have a clearer picture of the success of our efforts to recruit."

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