NHS staff praised by health minister

SCOTTISH public health minister Michael Matheson has praised the dedication of local health service staff, after chairing NHS Borders annual review on Friday.

The review, which was held in Tweedbank and open to the public, involved an examination of the board’s performance over the past year and also future plans, and how these link to the local health authority’s objectives and the national outcomes framework. John Raine, chair of NHS Borders, said the board had shown strong performance in a number of areas.

Mr Raine said: “These include waiting times performance, particularly for cancer referrals, which continues to be above the national target; the number of alcohol brief interventions carried out was double the target, and the number of alcohol-related hospital discharges has reduced; waiting times at A&E [accident & emergency] are shorter than the Scottish national average; hospital infection rates are generally below the Scottish average; and life expectancy in the Borders is above the national average as people are living longer, healthier lives.

“However we are not complacent and recognise we need to maintain the good work in these areas.

“We are also aware of the challenging issues around the early diagnosis and management of people with a dementia that we face in achieving the national target.

“We are currently undertaking a range of activities to ensure that dementia is responded to as a priority across the organisation to ensure we meet the target.

“On behalf of the board, I would like to recognise and acknowledge the hard work and dedication of our staff to their patients, colleagues and their communities.

“We could not achieve such strong performance or deliver such high quality and effective health care without them.”

Mr Matheson said chairing the review had allowed him to hear about the significant progress the board has made in the past year and local plans to drive forward further improvements.

“During the visit, the dedication and commitment of staff was clear to me and I would like to take this opportunity to thank staff at every level for their hard work,” he said.

“Our health service must always strive to provide the best standards of care, so holding those who manage our NHS boards to account in public is the right thing to do.

“These meetings are a chance to question the decision-makers who shape local health services.

“I am glad that so many people took the opportunity to attend and ask questions about their health service.”

However, the Borders Patients Action Group, which is currently protesting the possible closure of the BGH hydrotherapy pool, was less than impressed.

It has now written to Mr Matheson complaining the lengthy meeting left little opportunity for the public to ask questions.