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Public meeting called over fears for Oban hospital

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A public meeting has been called in Oban amid mounting fears that Lorn and Islands Hospital could be downgraded or even closed.

Argyll and Bute Health and Social Care Partnership (HSCP) is currently undertaking a strategic review of the hospital.

Clinical lead, Dr Richard Wilson, warned that senior doctors and surgeons have an “overwhelming workload burden” and that when they do leave, the HSCP is “highly unlikely to find replacements for them”.

Oban Community Council chairwoman Marri Malloy said: “It doesn’t look good for the hospital. We have been told that everything is under review.

“We have lost nearly 100 beds from when it opened 25 years ago. There were 130 beds then and now there are about 36.

“My concern is that it will eventually end up closing or be downgraded to a day hospital.

“We feel if we don’t do something now, by the end of the review it will be too late.”

Annie Macleod, NHS Highland locality manager for Oban, Lorn and Isles, said: “We are all well aware that we have to continue to develop and change how we provide health and social care services locally in order to meet changing demographics and the health needs of our local communities.”

Dr Richard Wilson, Clinical Lead for Primary Care, said: “Family doctors in Argyll and Bute need hospitals that will provide the highest quality of care for those patients too ill to be kept at home. We also need these hospitals to provide the skills, resources and investigatory tools that allow us to manage the vast majority of patients in the community, without the need for a hospital bed.

“Lorn and Islands Hospital has managed to do this in recent years, despite the serious difficulties facing remote and rural areas such as Argyll and Bute in recruiting and retaining senior clinical staff. This has led to the remaining senior surgeons and doctors in the Oban locality having to take on an overwhelming workload burden to keep the hospital running. We owe them an enormous debt of gratitude. However these individuals will not carry on forever and the plain truth is that we are highly unlikely to find replacements for them.”

Dr Peter Thorpe, Clinical Lead for Acute Services, added that staffing difficulties have “led to the extensive use of locum doctors which is not clinically ideal and is expensive.”

He said: “The Integration Joint Board has also made it clear that significant savings have to be made by the locality, as is the case elsewhere in Argyll and Bute.”

The public meeting takes place at the Corran Halls in Oban on Friday at 7pm.

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