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Only way is up for Alness and Invergordon Medical Group after 'hitting rock bottom' as NHS Highland moves to address deficiencies under previous regime


By Hector MacKenzie

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Luke Stoltman is best known for his strongman antics but is also finding time to front a campaign on health service improvement.
Luke Stoltman is best known for his strongman antics but is also finding time to front a campaign on health service improvement.

THE only way is up for an Easter Ross medical practice which has now "hit rock bottom".

Strongman Luke Stoltman – who is fronting a community campaign for improvements at the troubled Alness and Invergordon Medical Group – made the forthright comments to the Journal ahead of further meetings with NHS Highland, which has taken over running it in the wake of a recruitment crisis and community unrest.

Mr Stoltman – who first spoke out due to concerns with the way his father, a patient there, was being treated – made his remarks in the wake of revelations that under the previous regime, some staff vetting procedures had not been carried out properly.

He said: "The bigger picture is that the whole community gets the care it deserves. I think right now the community has low expectations. All they want is the care and respect they are entitled to.

"The state of the practice was appalling. It's not going to be a quick fix. I have utmost confidence in the team now in place in turning it around.

How we previously reported the issue last month.
How we previously reported the issue last month.

"They have made an action plan. With the latest issue over disclosure checks, we have reached rock bottom and in a way it's the best place to be because after that the only way is up.

"From a positive point of view, the community is speaking about this and holding people accountable. I think it's possible we can see some change in the next few months.

"I think we as a community need to take responsibility, keep talking and say that we have an expectation of this being the best practice in the country. We can ask ourselves what is the one thing that we can do that would help most locally, whether that be a CT scanner or whatever, and get involved in making it happen.

"Positivity is needed. We have to look to making it one of the best practices in Scotland and become a shining beacon. It's not just the NHS that can do it, it's all of us."

He has met with NHS Highland primary health care manager Emma Rollo and was yesterday due to meet Lyndsey McConnell, clinical care director.

The running of the medical group has been taken over by NHS Highland. Picture: James Mackenzie.
The running of the medical group has been taken over by NHS Highland. Picture: James Mackenzie.

An NHS Highland spokesman, referring to the disclosure check issue and wider concerns, said: "The practice remains open with support from the wider community team. Proactive planning early last week has ensured that our GPs, nurses and support colleagues continue to provide clinical care to the local community.

"We are sorry for any delays experienced but would thank the community for their understanding and the clinical staff for their continued commitment at this time.

"We remain positive that as we progress with our internal developments we will move into a much more stable position in order to provide a sustainably good service to our community."

Related: NHS Highland struggling to recruit staff for Easter Ross practice

Call for enquiry into Easter Ross practice


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