Concerns have been raised that 20 jobs, principally from the Community Mental Health Team, are to be relocated from the Town Hall in Stromness to the Balfour hospital in Kirkwall.
It is understood that the decision has been taken with little prior consultation with community planning partners, including the Stromness Community Council. Orkney’s MSP Liam McArthur said the proposal “appears to fly in the face of a joint commitment amongst partners to safeguard and indeed increase the number of posts based in Stromness.”
Ahead of NHS Orkney, Orkney Islands Council, Stromness Community and their partners reviewing the situation next month, Mr McArthur has this week written to the Scottish Government Health Secretary, Shona Robison MSP, calling on the Scottish Government to help find a solution.
Commenting, Mr McArthur said:
“I understand that senior NHS Orkney and Council mental health officials have pointed to the incompatibility of IT systems operated by the health service and local authorities as the principle reason for bringing forward this decision. The consequence, however, is that the Town Hall will now be vacated without any agreement having been reached on what posts will be relocated to meet earlier commitments.
“It is argued that delivery of clinical services in the Town Hall is not sustainable, which I can appreciate. The concern, however, is that without the IT incompatibility issues being resolved, it is difficult to see how any non-clinical, health service posts might be based in this location.
“The Scottish Government has been driving forward reforms to deliver more joint working and closer integration between health boards and local authorities. That makes sense, but it must be done in ways that don’t simply result in the centralisation of services. I have therefore called on the Health Secretary to help in finding a solution in this case, that allows health service posts to remain in Stromness."