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Campaigners raise concerns over ARI staffing changes

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Campaigners have raised concerns over changes to staffing at Aberdeen Royal Infirmary’s neuroscience ward.

Orkney-based Caroline Critchlow, who founded Friends of the Neuro Ward – ARI (FNWA), said a consultant had retired earlier than expected, causing uncertainty and delays.

She said her husband Kevin’s MRI scan was now two months over due.

His brain tumour was successfully operated on at the hospital, but a 10th remains inside his skull and he requires check-ups.

Ms Critchlow also warned the changes within the skull-base team had been “unsettling” and that the retiree’s replacement needed further training and mentoring.

She said skull-base clinics had not been taking place for three months and that –

because the team of surgeons was incomplete – operations on pituitary tumours and acoustic neuromas had not been possible.

It emerged earlier this year that a planned £4million refurbishment of the ward had been put back until 2017.

The Press and Journal revealed in May that upgrade work originally scheduled for this summer will now not start until February.

Scottish Conservative Liam Kerr and Liberal Democrat Liam McArthur have now decided to make a joint plea to NHS Grampian over the ward’s future.

North-east MSP Mr Kerr said any uncertainty would cause huge anxiety for patients and families with “enough to worry about”.

He added: “Assurances have been given that a succession plan is in place following the departure of a senior member of staff, but those assurances have been called into question by patients who have not been given their appointments.

“It is imperative that the high standard of care that has been provided at this facility will be maintained.”

But an NHS Grampian spokeswoman rejected the picture painted, insisting the consultant’s retirement was not unexpected.

She added: “The remaining members of the skull-base team have been consulted with extensively and are confident in the plan for a sustainable future for the service in Aberdeen.

“One consultant is working with national experts three days a week to facilitate their training and development. This also includes mentoring arrangements.

“Skull-base services continue to be delivered locally with clinics held regularly and no patients have been referred outwith NHS Grampian since the departure of the previous consultant.”

A source said the MRIs were a separate issue and not linked to the retirement of the consultant.

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