NHS Grampian has performed a last-minute U-turn on plans which would have left 200 Parkinson’s patients in Moray without local care for a year.
One doctor, who specialised in the condition, retired from Dr Gray’s Hospital in Elgin in March, and the region’s remaining expert was scheduled to embark on a year’s sabbatical at the end of this month.
Sufferers had been told they could speak to medical staff in Aberdeen, via video link technology, but pleaded with health bosses to ensure Dr Gray’s received a replacement.
The chairwoman of the Elgin and District Parkinson’s Support Group, Elsie Watson, previously described it as a “crisis” situation.
But now NHS Grampian has confirmed a locum consultant will be appointed for the next three months, while efforts are made to secure a permanent replacement.
A spokesman said: “We would like to reassure patients there is no planned decrease or removal of this service from Moray.”
The health board also announced plans to improve its neurology service by providing video conference clinics for patients aged under 65, where a specialist nurse at Dr Gray’s will guide people through assessments with a consultant based in Aberdeen.
Moray MSP Richard Lochhead met dozens of residents to hear their concerns about having no local cover.
Last night, he welcomed the rethink and said it would “alleviate the anxiety” of people in Moray with Parkinson’s.
But he added that more needed to be done to ensure patients received adequate care.
He said: “This is a welcome step forward, but it is important that there is consultant cover is place for the whole year.
“Moreover, NHS Grampian must pull out all the stops to fill the current vacancies for consultants in older people’s medicine.”