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Falklands : Health and Medical Services Committee Report for August
Submitted by Falkland Islands News Network (Juanita Brock) 31.08.2006 (Article Archived on 14.09.2006)

Find out what happened during this important meeting.



By J. Brock (FINN)


A meeting of the Health and Medical Services Committee took place at 0930hrs on Thursday, 10 August 2006 in the Liberation Room of the Secretariat. Present were Cllr Mike Rendell (Chair), Cllr Richard Cockwell, Dr Roger Diggle (CMO), Mrs Nikki Osborne (Director Health and Medical Services), Mr. Anton Livermore (Lay Member), Mrs Candy Blackley (Secretary) and the Chief Medical Officer from Mount Pleasant Complex.


After confirmation of the minutes of the meeting held on 22 June 2006, matters from that meeting were discussed.  Reports of ecoli brought an immediate response from the UK and the problem has been cleared up.  A report will be forthcoming but at this time it is not known what the source of the bug is.  The Isolation Unit at the Hospital is functional, though there are a few snags to clear up.


The Director of Health and Medical Services, Mrs. Nikki Osborne, gave her report, updating the Committee on staff matters, appointment waiting times, dentists, Physiotherapist, Social Services Activity, overseas referrals, visits, complaints, other issues, and recommendations/conclusions.


Mrs. Osborne reported that a locum dentist Virna Kane, a new carer for Social Services and a locum theatre nurse have been recruited or are in place.  One nurse has left and another will leave this month.  Funds have been approved for a third social worker and to replace the current Social Work Team Leader when she leaves.


Though there are difficulties with waiting times, a new locum Doctor should help things along.  Emergencies can be seen the same day.  The list for dental check-ups has increased by 18% since May.  Routine appointments for the Physiotherapist can be obtained in 3 to 4 weeks.


Social Services received 20 new referrals in June and July this year and of these five were child protection cases.  In the last two months 30 people went overseas in the last two months of the financial year.  In 2005/2006 the referrals were up 17% from 2004/2005. 


There will be visits from Opticians and the Psychiatrist in September, a Gynaecologist and Autism Specialist in November, a Urology Specialist in December, Eye, Ears, Nose and Throat specialist in January and the Psychiatrist again in February.


Three new complaints were received in June.  One was about the deterioration of service in the dental department – in particular waiting time.  The second was about the application of medical treatment overseas policy and the third was an appeal against a welfare benefits decision.


There was a brief discussion about Camp calls with a problem in getting information to the Doctors being a sticking point.  It was important to stress that if the priority is low, more needy patients will be seen first.


The Children and Young People’s Strategy Group paper was discussed and a paper will be put to the UN on what is happening with children and young people in the Falklands, with a plan of action being the main feature.  There had been problems getting in touch with young people at the beginning of the project but things are better now.


International health regulations were discussed with the feeling that MPC and Stanley should work together on this and sing from the same hymn sheet.  Much of the paper would only be applicable in the UK but there is reason to have a look at things that apply to the Overseas Territories.  There was discussion about publicising this, with one meeting at Government House already taking place.  The feeling was that the media should be advised about the way forward, with as little restriction on reporting as possible.


One item, occupational health brought concern.  Dr Diggle asked whether Human Resources had a policy about hiring on handicapped people.


Karen Chenery, the Mental Health Welfare Officer, gave an excellent power-point report about the work of the Mental Health Strategy Group.  She explained that some mental health problems happen during periods of stress but when the stress leaves, so does the problem.  However, there were chronic mental health problems that need to be treated.  She also pointed out that there were mental health problems like dementia, that won’t go away as sections of the population age.


Ms. Chenery explained that there were limited services available to help people with mental health problems and she put a case for more qualified people to help out.  She pointed out that on an island in Scotland where she was there were at least 10 mental health workers for 7,000 people.  In the Falklands, she is the only one, and when she is off duty there is no mental health care.


Members of the Mental Health Strategy Group were present in the public section of the meeting.  A colour presentation copy and website would be ready by the 10th of October this year – Mental Health Day.



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