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Combining GP practices would be a mistake

I live with my severely disabled wife on the Ross of Mull. We are very dependent on the excellent medical facilities here and, in particular, on our local GP, Dr Frank Teunisse, who has run the independent practice serving the Ross of Mull and Iona, and given us continuity for the past 18 months.

He gave his notice in December 2017 and will be retiring at the end of May.  There is no plan in place for his replacement and the health board has been unwilling to advertise his post because it now proposes to incorporate the existing independent practice serving the Ross of Mull and Iona into a single practice serving the whole of Mull, which will be based at the north of the island.

This plan might suit residents of Tobermory, Salen and Craignure, where more than half the population of Mull live, but Fionnphort and Iona are one hour away by car from Craignure and one hour and 40 minutes from Tobermory via a single-track road across a mountain pass, which can be congested in summer and impassable in winter.

Dr Frank has been a wonderful GP. He is a hands-on doctor who loves to administer to his patients, including out-of-hours emergencies. His approach has also relieved the pressures on hospitals and consultants.

Unfortunately, the health board is unwilling to advertise his post partly because it no longer sees the value of single independent practices in rural areas.

The Ross of Mull and Iona have always had their own GP practice and, prior to Dr Frank, Dr Maureen Douglas ran the practice for 28 years. Furthermore, the intention to replace independent single practices with group practices even when this is incompatible with the geography and remoteness of a particular area, poses a real danger to patients in emergency situations, which does not exist when the GP resides locally.

It could be imagined that the real reason for the change is lack of NHS funding but the opposite is true. The cost of Dr Frank’s current practice is saving the NHS £180,000 per year over the arrangement before he was appointed when locums were employed costing up to  £1,000 per day.

And since it is likely to be six months before a permanent GP is appointed as part of the proposed single Mull practice, the health board is likely to squander £90,000 of NHS resources. All this is being done in order to replace a localised service on the Ross and Mull and Iona which not only works well but is liked by the residents and is very good value for money.

A GP advert petition, which now has around 300 signatures, has been launched which urges the health board to advertise a replacement for Dr Frank without further delay. Only in the unlikely event that no GPs come forward who are able and willing to do the job will the residents of this remote part of Mull be satisfied that it is necessary to consider alternative arrangements for GP services for the Ross of Mull and Iona.

The argument behind the GP advert petition is truly a ‘no-brainer’.

Jonathan Knight,

Pennyghael, Isle of Mull.

Flawed theory on CalMac’s woes

As an islander, I was initially grateful to your correspondent Donald J Morrison for solving the unfathomable mystery of all the timetable problems and vessel failures CalMac has been experiencing of late.

As he alone realised, these difficulties might well have been caused by CalMac violating Mr Morrison’s God’s laws regarding something known as the ‘the Sabbath’.

Now, however, I am not so sure that The Oban Times did Mr Morrison a favour by publishing his very singular theory as it seems it might be faulty.

Inspired by Mr Morrison’s opinion, I did a little reading of the Bible myself only to find at Genesis 7 God telling Noah and his family to set to sea in the ark in which they were destined to sail for 378 days, including of course no fewer than 54 Sabbaths. Well, if sailing on the Sabbath is OK with the God that commanded Noah to do it, then surely it is good enough for Mr Morrison, CalMac, Old Uncle Tom Cobbly and all?

I am sure Mr Morrison will be aware that one may not in UK/Scottish law discriminate in favour of one belief over another these days and I suspect that if we were to respect every holy day of the week of every religion that has one by not allowing CalMac to sail on them, there would be no sailings at all.

It ought to be sufficient for those who wish to abstain from travelling by sea, from working, from enjoying recreation and so on in order to properly observe their preferred sacred days that they should get on and do so peacefully, modestly and certainly without seeking to impose their chosen religion’s strictures upon others who are on a different but equally valid path to enlightenment.

Peter Isaacson,


Standing room only on trains

The following trains were badly overcrowded recently with standing room only.

The 12.20pm Glasgow Queen Street to Oban on Sunday April 29 and the 12.11pm Oban to Glasgow Queen Street, also on Sunday April 29.

When I spoke to a local employee of Abellio ScotRail, she said the overcrowding was due to the sunshine.

It should be noted that if you miss the 12.20pm from Glasgow, the next train is 6.21pm, which is a wait of six hours.

The 12.11 from Oban is the first train on a Sunday. The first bus to Glasgow on a Sunday leaves at 12.10pm, which is one minute earlier than the train.

David Gallant,


Thanks for help after accident

On Monday afternoon two weeks ago my wife and I were in a car accident. We were not injured but were shaken, my wife particularly.

Several motorists stopped to help us get out of our car, which was on its side, and they treated us before any other help arrived.

They included a member of a mountain rescue team, a paramedic and a Macmillan nurse. Their expert help must have assisted our quick recovery, and their checks were repeated by the ambulance crew on its arrival. Later a man from BT Openreach let me use his mobile to contact our daughter. Equally, the doctor and the staff at A&E treated us as soon as we arrived.

I would like to put on record the appreciation of my wife and I for all the help we received from everyone concerned. We believe that a power greater than ours took control once the accident had occurred.

Fred Pole,


Honoured to attend Islay memorial

I was honoured to attend the recent commemorations in Port Ellen that took place to remember the 700 men who died in two First World War disasters off Islay.

Princess Anne laid a wreath at a service to mark 100 years since the tragedies, while warships from Britain, America, France and Germany gathered over the wreck of a ship.

More than 200 US soldiers died when the Tuscania was torpedoed by a German U-boat off Islay in February in 1918. Eight months later, the Otranto went down after a collision in a storm.

It is so important that we never forget the sacrifice of these young men who died so that we may continue to enjoy the freedoms we so often take for granted.

Councillor Alastair Redman,


Care of the elderly should not be for profit

We have the best health care system in the NHS but the cost is high, and GPs and the local health authority service staff struggle to juggle limited budgets, especially for elderly and nursing care.

But to learn that a North Argyll care home is to withdraw nursing care because of the unsustainable cost as it cannot find nursing staff smacks of side-lining some residents who are too expensive to keep.

This will result in the elderly being shunted about as their health declines at a vulnerable time because private providers of care, that may be funded by the local authority, can’t make a decent profit.

The answer may be for local nursing to change to charitable or not-for-profit model and the tax benefits therein with perhaps guaranteed contract employment for its staff willing to accept structured pay for career designated , sometimes lifelong work, because the care industry needs to keep its dedicated staff as we are all living longer and will possibly need some care in the twilight of our years.

Stephen Jones,

Millpark, Oban.

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