Orkney MSP Liam McArthur has today received a written assurance from the Chairman of NHS Orkney, Ian Kinniburgh, that Orkney patients traveling south for treatment will not be forced to travel by ferry.
Last week, NHS Shetland announced that Shetland patients, who were previously given the option of choosing their mode of travel, will now be expected to take the ferry unless they meet certain criteria. This gave rise to concerns that NHS Orkney might follow suit, prompting Mr McArthur to seek robust assurances from the board’s Chairman.
Responding to Orkney’s MSP, Mr Kinniburgh said he could “confirm that such a proposal is not being considered by the Board of NHS Orkney, nor is it likely to consider such a proposal in the future.” He added “the lack of a daily sailing between Kirkwall and Aberdeen would make this an impractical option.”
Commenting, Mr McArthur said:
“I welcome this cast iron assurance from the Chairman that Orkney patients travelling for treatment in Aberdeen will not be required to go by ferry, unless they wish. Mr Kinniburgh also helpfully sets out why such an idea would be impractical not just now, but in the future as well.
“Since news broke of the planned changes in Shetland, I know there have been many in Orkney concerned that the local health board here might follow suit. For elderly and vulnerable patients, the prospect would have been particularly unpleasant.
“I hope, therefore, that Mr Kinniburgh’s unambiguous statement has put those fears to rest.”