Islanders Express Concern Over NHS Representation

Around 40 islands’ residents turned out last night to hear about changes planned for health services from next year.

GPs, Dr Francis Old and Dr John Garman, together with PCT representatives, Joy Hewitt and Rachel Crawley were joined by Council Chair Mike Hicks and Council Officer, Penny Penn-Howard in the 90 minute question and answer session.

And the hottest topic was how Scilly would be represented on the new Kernow Clinical Commissioning Group, which will take over most of the functions of the existing PCT from next March.

The new organisation will have six GPs on the board, each representing a different district of Cornwall, including the Isles of Scilly. Dr Old said that covered a population of around 550,000 people, and Councillor Dudley Mumford asked how our unique problems could possibly be heard.

Council Vice Chair Amanda Martin echoed that point, saying that the islands were an “acknowledged anomaly” with very specific issues related to our location. She said we could get lost and we needed specific representation on the new organisation.

Council Officer, Aisling Hick said we’re lucky that our current representative on the KCCG, Dr Old, also has the contract to run the Health Centre, so has a very good understanding of our problems.

But she said that could all change next year when the contract is up for renewal and questioned what would happen then.

She took issue with the new group being called Kernow. She said, “we’re the Isles of Scilly and we’re not in any way, culturally or ethnically, Cornish.” She asked them to include Scilly in the name to reflect that and Dr Old agreed to get that considered.

On further pressing of the point by Dudley. Joy Hewitt agreed to bring up the representation of Scilly with the board although she said she, “couldn’t make any guarantees” that it was possible.

Elsewhere, Tracey Smith who heads the Islands’ Parent Carer group highlighted the gap in occupational therapy for children, saying she’d been waiting five years for treatment for her son and she didn’t want anyone else to have to go through that.

Amanda Martin commented on the need for a full-time female GP in the surgery and former Islands’ GP, Dr Adrian Davis, said there was little encouragement for new doctors, male or female, to settle here.

Dr Old responded that they were currently advertising the role, but it was difficult to recruit when their contract could finish next March. He said he’d worked many weekends here away from his family, and newly-arrived GP Dr Garman had moved his entire family here recently.