Patients needing emergency radiology treatment in the Highlands may have to travel to Tayside or Grampian after the region’s full-time specialist consultants leave next month.
NHS Highland is being left short staffed in Raigmore Hospital’s radiology department following the retirement and resignation respectively of two senior members of staff.
Board chairman David Alston, in a letter to Highlands and Islands MSP Ed Mountain, confirmed: “There will be no full-time substantive consultant interventional radiologist based at Raigmore from the middle of August following a retiral and a resignation from the existing establishment of two consultants.
“Following discussions with colleagues in NHS Grampian and NHS Tayside there will be a formal arrangement in place for the transfer of patients in need of interventional radiology procedures on an emergency basis to one of these centres from mid-August.”
Interventional radiologists are often required to perform invasive procedures to stop internal bleeding in patients who have suffered a haemorrhage. They also help restore blood flow in patients whose lung has collapsed due to an embolism.
Mr Mountain said: “I am deeply concerned that the chair of NHS Highland has allowed this situation to occur where the Highlands are relying on the services of NHS Grampian and NHS Tayside for interventional radiology services in the case of emergencies.
“It is deeply unsatisfactory that due to staff shortages patients will have to go the extra distance to Aberdeen or Dundee for emergency interventional radiology treatment.”
A spokesman for NHS Highland said: “There is an international shortage of radiologists and it is, therefore, not surprisingly that boards are grappling with this challenge.
“There is no single or simple solution.
“What is deeply disappointing is that Mr Mountain is fully aware of the shortages and heard first hand at our board meeting last week about all the actions we are taking.”