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New temporary arrangements will commence next month to cover out-of-hours medical services and hospital medical cover on Barra and Vatersay.  

The arrangements will be in place for a period of six months from April 1, 2021.

From that date, Barra Medical Practice will no longer provide these ‘Local Enhanced Services’.   

There will be no change to the daytime GP Practice service, which will continue to be provided by Barra Medical Practice.    

During the six-month interim arrangement, long-term options for the permanent cover of these services will be developed.  

From April until the end of September, two General Practitioners have been employed by NHS Western Isles to provide medical cover at St Brendan’s Hospital, both during normal daytime hours and out of hours. They will also provide emergency care out-of-hours for the local population.  

Both doctors have experience working in rural healthcare and have recently worked within Project Joy, a project designed to improve the recruitment of medical staff in remote and rural areas, including the Western Isles, Orkney, Shetland and the Highlands.   

Holiday cover arrangements are in place, with cover being provided by two locums: one a colleague of the two new GPs, and the other who is currently working in the Emergency Department in Western Isles Hospital in Stornoway.  

The above arrangement will ensure that the current high quality services will be maintained.   

The induction period for the new GPs has been completed and the individuals have already been working within the system to meet staff and understand patient pathways, processes and systems.   

Emergency care out of hours will be accessed through NHS24 on 111.  

NHS Western Isles would like to take this opportunity to sincerely thank Barra Medical Practice and GP partners for their longstanding commitment and contribution to out-of-hours and hospital medical services on Barra and Vatersay. The service has provided high quality, focused care for the local population and the many visitors to the Islands.    

Options for the long-term provision of these essential services will be developed in partnership with staff and other stakeholders, and we will ensure there is engagement with the local community and other partners as this work progresses.  

NHS Western Isles considers that this change presents an opportunity to redesign and maintain the high quality, patient centred and modern needs-led service for the local population.