Yesterday's Annual Review of Western Isles Health Board went exceptionally well, with Cabinet Secretary for Health and Wellbeing Alex Neil commending the Health Board and local Health Service staff at all levels for such a positive and successful year.
Mr Neil commented: "This is the first Board review I have done in my new job as Cabinet Secretary for Health and Wellbeing and it's been a pleasure. The message I am taking away is that the Health Board in the Western Isles is a very well run organisation...and is planning ahead in a very positive and dynamic way."
Mr Neil acknowledged the demographic challenges in the Western Isles, in particular an ageing population and the fact that we are facing the biggest percentage reduction in the working age population in Scotland. These factors, he said, presented a host of challenges in terms of the recruitment and retention of staff, which he recognised as the 'single biggest challenge' facing the organisation.
Despite these challenges, Mr Neil described the organisation as 'innovative and well managed'.
"During the day, the message has been the same throughout, and that is that the Health Board in the Western Isles is doing a fine job," said Mr Neil. "I would like to thank you and congratulate you on what has been a major step forward in the performance of the Health Board in the Western Isles. I would like to publicly pay tribute to all those who work for the Health Service in the Western Isles for the very good service you are providing to the local people. I think the feedback from the patients is particularly important and the patient surveys tell it all; the very, very high levels of satisfaction around the services provided by the Western Isles Health Board. I think the staff in the Health Board and all those who work for and with the Health Board need to be congratulated at every level for the quality of the service provision for the people of the Western Isles."
One of the highlights of the day was a presentation of the new digital pens to the Health Minister by local community nurses and IT staff. Mr Neil described the introduction of digital pens to improve services for patients in the Western Isles as 'absolutely brilliant' and said that he thinks that the technology could be introduced throughout Scotland. "The pens tick every single box you could think of," he added."They are better for the patients in terms of patient care and patient safety, they improve enormously the amount of quality time the community nurses can spend with the patients, and they could also lead to many other applications in the future. I think this is the start of something big, which will go national very quickly once other people see the benefits of it. It's a fantastic idea and I congratulate all those involved in taking it forward so successfully."