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Caithness News Bulletins October 2003

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The Highland Primary Care NHS Trust is delighted to report that, after 14 months of uncertainty, the shortage of GPs in the Medical Centre in Wick has finally been resolved.

Dr. Ernie Millard had run one of the single-handed practices in the Medical Centre for 13 years and resigned in November 2002 to join the practice in Golspie. The Primary Care Trust had advertised three times during the last 12 months to fill the vacancy, but were unfortunately unable to recruit anyone to the post. However, Drs. Johnston, Cobb and Leeuwenberg, of the Riverview Practice, after meetings with the Trust, have reached an agreement to solve the long term vacancy to the benefit of their patients by amalgamating with Dr. Millard’s practice and recruiting two new GPs.

Dr. Derek Kelly will now join the others on 5th January 2004, followed by Dr. Neil Wilson on 1st May 2004.

Dr. Iain Johnston, senior partner at Riverview, Clinical Lead for the Local Health Care Co-operative and Non-Executive member of NHS Highland said: ‘We are absolutely delighted to have been able to employ two new partners to our practice, especially after such a long time and in view of the difficulty we had in recruiting. Patients will now have the choice of a larger number of GPs, both male and female and can feel comfort in the knowledge that there will be continuity in the GP they choose to see in the future.’

The other piece of good news for Health Services in the north is that the vacancy at Lybster has also finally been filled after 14 months. Dr. Joiner was well known in the area, having practised in Lybster for 19 years. His job was advertised three times with no success. However, after close working with representatives of the community, the Trust is absolutely delighted to announce that two GPs have been recruited to fill the vacancy. Dr. Bert Martens and Dr. Borja (Bobby) Echavarren have been employed as Salaried Doctors by the Trust and will start working in the surgery in January.

The Trust would like to thank the representatives of the community for their help over the past year in what was a difficult time for the area. They have also been invaluable in finding temporary accommodation for the two new GPs. 2004 will be a better year for the patients in Caithness who can look forward to a fully manned service which can only benefit them and the area.

Mrs. Heather Sheerin, Chairman, Highland Primary Care Trust said: ‘I am extremely grateful to the patients in Caithness for their forbearance and tolerance in what has been a very uncertain period. However, I must also thank the Primary Care team of the Trust who worked long and hard with members of the community to provide a robust sustainable service that will have positive aspects on the health of the patients in those areas.’