Islands’ new health contract gets cautious welcome

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News of a new medical services contract for Mull and Iona has been  welcomed with cautious optimism.

This week Argyll and Bute Health and Social Care Partnership (HSCP) announced that Oban-based Lorn Medical Centre has been awarded the General Medical Services contract for the Mull and Iona Medical Group with surgeries in Tobermory, Salen and Bunessan and a branch over on Iona.

The contract includes primary medical services, out of hours GP cover and GP care in hospital.

The HSCP says there will be a transition period to allow for the recruitment of permanent GPs on Mull to provide more continuity of care but it will keep communities updated.

Donald Watt, acting head of adult services (west) for the HSCP, said: ‘This is good news for the local communities across Mull and Iona and I would like to thank them for their ongoing patience as we have sought to put in place a permanent service for the practice.

‘We will continue to work with the local communities over the coming months to ensure they are kept up to date as things progress.’

The Mull and Iona Medical Group is made up of Tobermory Surgery, Salen Surgery and Bunessan Surgery and a surgery on Iona.

An extensive tendering process was carried out for the contract and candidates were interviewed by a panel which included public representatives from Mull.

Mull and Iona Community Trust general manager Moray Finch said: ‘We welcome the announcement and are cautiously optimistic that it will at last give people some continuity of care and the option of being able to see the same GP more than once. We will do everything we can to support the process as they implement the new system.’

Mr Finch added thanks to Billy McClymont and Fiona Brown from Mull Community Council and Councillor Mary-Jean Devon who, he said, have been ‘working tirelessly for several years to sort this problem’ so people can have a permanent service.

Councillor Devon said: ‘Lorn Medical Centre will have to employ GPs now. If they are of the same calibre and commitment of the GPs who serve the busy Oban practice, then that will be good. We need someone permanent although I appreciate not all the Mull hours will be covered by permanent people.

‘We look forward to restoring confidence in the GP service on Mull. The last few years that confidence has been knocked and we need to build that back up. We have been getting regular locums and that’s been the start of a turn.’