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Chief Executive of NHS Scotland and Director-General Health and Social Care, Caroline Lamb, and Chief Operating Officer, John Burns, visited Western Isles Hospital last week.

The purpose of the visit was to thank staff for their significant and steadfast commitment to provide high quality healthcare services to the local population, and in particular for their dedicated work and support during the pandemic.

This note of thanks is conveyed to all staff across NHS Western Isles.

During the visit, Ms Lamb and Mr Burns met with staff across a range of services. On Wednesday, they heard about the innovative HeartFlow service from Jane Macdonald, Radiology Manager, and Dr Dave Rigby, Realistic Medicine and Therapeutics Clinical Lead. They then attended one of their "handover huddles", before meeting with some of our Clinical Support Nurses.

A presentation on Hospital at Home was also on the agenda, with discussion about the Colon Capsule being delivered within that service, and an update on eConsult.

On Thursday, the Scottish Government visitors heard a presentation from Allana Macphee on the First Contact Physiotherapy Service, before having an informal meet and greet with a wide range of support service staff. This was followed by a walkround of Western Isles Hospital, taking in the Emergency Department, the Vaccination Centre, and the Chemotherapy Suite.

How NHS Western Isles supports staff wellbeing was high on the agenda, and a presentation was delivered by some members of the local Staff Wellbeing Group. They then met with members of the Integrated Joint Board to discuss the Barra and Vatersay Community Campus and the National Care Plan. This was followed by a site visit to the new Goathill care facility.

The agenda also included a meeting with Executive Directors followed by an open staff meeting.

Ms Lamb said: “It’s been great to meet with so many staff and to have had the opportunity to see such a wide range of services. It’s really important for us to get out and get much more of a feel for what’s happening on the ground. This is a huge part of our role.

"We have been really impressed by what we have seen and the innovation delivered here in the Western Isles. It’s great to gain a thorough understanding of some of the challenges that face you as an island Board, in particular in terms of demand and the backlog from COVID. It’s always invaluable to learn about particular issues in local systems and some of the solutions you are working though in the Western Isles.”

Mr Burns also said: “We have had a great opportunity over the last couple of days to hear and experience some of the incredible teamworking and innovation in the Western Isles and have also gained a sense of some of the challenges. I’m taking away a lot in terms of your approach to delivering services differently and taking services to people in the community. It’s also been so helpful to hear about and understand how you need to be agile and flexible in terms of your employment and recruitment and looking at new ways of working."

Photograph: Gillian McCannon (NHSWI Chair), Caroline Lamb (Chief Executive of NHS Scotland and Director-General Health and Social Care), Gordon Jamieson (NHSWI Chief Executive) and John Burns (NHS Scotland Chief Operating Officer).