Shortage of Medical Cover Affects Castle Douglas Cottage Hospital

A KEY shortage of medical cover has prompted immediate action to ensure the safety of patients at a cottage hospital.

Today a decision was made to halt admissions of patients to Castle Douglas Cottage Hospital, Dumfries and Galloway and to transfer a small number of existing patients between the two Stewartry hospitals until medical management provision can be restored.

This will mean those patients requiring medical oversight being transferred from Castle Douglas Cottage Hospital to Kirkcudbright Cottage Hospital.

Meanwhile, an ongoing review will be undertaken of all patients in the Castle Douglas and Kirkcudbright hospitals to ensure they receive the appropriate care and support.

Explaining the situation, Dumfries and Galloway Community Health and Social Care General Manager Graham Abrines said: “We are in a situation where we have no option but to take immediate action in order to safeguard patients – ensuring they receive high quality, safe and effective care and support from the appropriate clinical team in order to meet their needs.

Here, the unavailability of a doctor has combined with a lack of any viable alternative. This is due to well-known issues around shortages of medical staffing, particularly GPs.”

For cottage hospitals to fully function, medical cover needs to be regularly available in order that patients can be medically assessed and medical treatment plans developed or revised with the patient, along with input and support from other professionals.

Every other cottage hospital relies on existing arrangements for GP practices to provide medical management.

Mr Abrines said: “Ideally, we would be in a position where we had local medics or advanced practitioners who were in a position to provide the level of medical assessment and support required.
“However, the shortage of GPs in Dumfries and Galloway is well documented as part of a wider, national recruitment challenge, and every conceivable approach to providing alternate short-term cover has been exhausted.”

Kirkcudbright Cottage Hospital will provide the medical assessment and support for the Stewartry locality until the situation at Castle Douglas is resolved.

At this time medical management provision at Castle Douglas Cottage Hospital is expected to start to become available again in August, which will allow the situation to be reviewed at that point.

Mr Abrines said: “Full medical management provision is expected to be fully in place in September through a contract with a very experienced locum medic.”



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