SIX “high-calibre” medical staff, including three GPs, have been recruited in Caithness in the past two months.
NHS Highland yesterday confirmed the full and part-time appointments, which include two advanced nurse practitioners and a physiotherapist.
Bill Fernie, chairman of Caithness Health Action Team, said: “It is definitely good news that the posts which were empty for a long time are being filled and that is welcomed by us.
“This is a success for NHS Highland but it has been a long time coming. They still have some way to go with other vacant posts but it is good to see GPs being recruited.
“Having locums all the time means patients don’t see the same person, but with GPs you have a better chance of continuity.”
Dr David Carson and Dr Mike Ruse are set to join advanced nurse practitioner (ANP) Colin Armer – a recent recruit – at the Riverbank Medical Practice in Thurso.
Dr Herjit Sutherland is to join the Riverview Medical Practice in Wick along with new ANP appointment Vicki Kelly.
Mike Flavell, who is giving up his post as NHS Highland’s Caithness district manager, is an advanced physiotherapist and is to begin weekly clinics shortly in the Riverbank and Riverview practices as well as in the Lybster medical practice. He will leave his present post in September, although he will be replaced.
Mr Flavell thinks his clinics will provide a number of benefits for patients and practices alike.
He said: “Twenty-five per cent of appointments at GP practices are for muscular skeletal problems. So, in theory, my physiotherapy clinics could help to take 25 per cent off the GP’s workload.
“And for people aged over 75, that figure goes up to 38 per cent, so I may be able to provide even more support.”
Kath Jones, NHS Highland’s associate medical director north and west, said: “Three Caithness GP practices run by NHS Highland have recently attracted six new clinicians to permanent posts including three GPs, two ANPs and a physio practitioner.
“The appointment of so many high-calibre clinicians within such a short time is a credit to the quality of the teams working in these practices. The recruitment of three GPs is particularly remarkable considering a quarter of GP practices across Scotland have vacancies.
“The recruitment of all the clinicians will improve the continuity of care provided by the practices while introducing access to a specialist primary care physio at the three sites.
“Reducing the reliance on temporary locums will enable NHS Highland to save money while improving care. With two of the clinicians moving into the district to take up post, this will be good for the local economy too.”
Mr Armer has already taken up his post at the practice on Janet Street, Thurso. Dr Carson is due to start in August and Dr Ruse in October.
Vicki Kelly is to start her post at the Martha Terrace practice in Wick next week with Herjit Sutherland due to begin work at the end of August.