An open letter to Fiona Davies, Chief Executive, NHS Highland

11 Apr 2024
Councillor Angus MacDonald pictured at Moss Park Care Home

Councillor's Column, Lochaber Times, Sunday 3rd March 2024

Dear Ms Davies,

I believe that our care sector is the biggest single concern in the Highlands today.

This will be exacerbated by the massive increases in older people needing care due to demographic changes.

I have been around 16 care homes in the Highlands in the last few months and spoken to many people in care.

It is felt that Lochaber has half the care beds that it needs, and indeed we know of people from Ardnamurchan in the Fort Augustus care home.

Mackintosh in Mallaig and Dal Mhor in Strontian are currently closed, but still being heated/maintained by NHS Highland. I understand Skye is down from 77 to 35 care beds, with residents being sent from Skye to Thurso, Autlbea and Inverness.

You can imagine how difficult it is for residents families to visit them.

New Care Inspectorate (Scotland) regulatory requirements are certain to further reduce the number of private care homes in the Highlands. The Highlands has had a net seven care homes close so far.

We should review the contracts for care providers, care at home etc in our communities also. At the moment carer contracts use an urban mileage calculator.

For instance at a number of care providers the carers are only paid for the time they are at patients home and not the time commuting in-between due to the contracts. Ten miles in this area can take 20 minutes to drive, with hours spent travelling per day.

Delayed discharges are blocking up the hospitals at a far greater per night expense than a care home night, not to mention the negative impact on those waiting for an operation/on waiting lists.

I believe we need a five-year plan, with Scottish Government funding guaranteed.

In my opinion this should be 60-bed care homes, with staff accommodation to be built in Fort William, Portree, Fort Augustus and Ullapool. I’m sure that Caithness and Sutherland will have similar needs.

Kind regards

Angus MacDonald
Highlands Liberal Democrat Councillor and Westminster Candidate


Councillor's Column, Lochaber Times, Sunday 3rd March 2024

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