Health Centre Committed To Employing Female GP

Isles of Scilly Health Centre

The Isles of Scilly Health Centre is committed to finding a third, full-time doctor and they would like that person to be female.

Dr John Garman told Councillors at yesterday’s Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee that the departure of Drs Christine Bradshaw and Angela Rawlings in June has created some challenges for them.

Cover was being provided from the mainland by Dr Maggie Gringhuis, but they were finding it difficult to recruit a full-time female doctor while there was uncertainty in how long they would have the contract to run the practice.

The Health Centre is currently run by a Helston-based practice who are applying for a long-term contract. The date the tenders close is this Friday with the winning bidder being announced in September.

But that means they can’t guarantee a long-term contract for any new recruits, and Practice Manager, Bob Boyce, said there is a shortage of female candidates who have the flexibility to move to the islands. He said doctors here also need a wide range of experience, especially in areas such as childbirth, as there isn’t a large hospital just down the road that they can call on in an emergency.

Councillor Richard McCarthy said not having a resident female GP at the practice is a significant disadvantage and he was pleased to hear they were committed to finding a female replacement.

Dr Garman said the practice didn’t quite appreciate the problems at the practice when they took it over last year and it was clear that patients were not getting the range of services offered to those on the mainland.

Bob said the Health Centre has been working hard to introduce new facilities and they’re hoping to start a sexual health clinic soon.

They can also now provide the “Home and Dry” alcohol detox programme on the islands, something the PCT has been trying to introduce here for 4 years.

The Health Centre is also investing in its IT system and is planning a new website, with online booking for appointments and ordering of medication.

That could also help increase communication with the community, something John admitted that they haven’t always done well.

Richard McCarthy said he was pleased that the practice had listened to residents on St Agnes following a series of changes to that island’s regular surgery days.

Richard and Councillor Mollie Peacock had written to the Health Centre in June following the switch of the doctors’ surgery there from Thursday afternoon, something that had been in place for almost half a century, to Tuesday afternoon, without any consultation.

It was then moved again within 10 days to Thursday morning, a time when many St Agnes residents travel to St Mary’s.

Richard said, following the letter, the Health Centre had quickly realised the strength of feeling and restored it to its original time slot and he thanked them for resolving the problem quickly.

John said the Health Centre was now working closely with other agencies on the islands, particularly around discharge of patients from the hospital and safeguarding of children.

However, he said further investment in the practice would be difficult until the outcome of the tendering process was announced in September.