Na h-Eileanan an Iar SNP MP Angus B MacNeil has expressed ‘deep concern’ over the findings of a Care Inspectorate Report into Services for Older People in the Western Isles published today (Wednesday).

The joint inspection of adult health and social care services provided by NHS Western Isles and Comhairle nan Eilean Siar identified several weaknesses in key performance outcomes being achieved for older people in the islands.

Mr MacNeil is particularly concerned that the report notes that difficulties of joint working between the council and the health board has contributed to the bed blocking problem at Western Isles Hospital and that the crucial St Brendan’s Hospital and Care Home project is classed as being ‘at a crossroads’ despite more than a decade of planning.

He said: “This is a very concerning report and is a scathing assessment of the lack of a detailed plan for reshaping services for older people.

“The staff working on the front line are committed to providing the best services possible for patients and clients and most older people are happy with the services provided to them – however there remains an issue with delayed discharges which the Care Inspectorate has attributed to the council and the health board not working effectively together. This is an absolutely unacceptable state of affairs.

“I understand that improvements in joint working have been made recently but more must be done to reassure the general public that the best possible services for older people are being provided.”

On the issue of St Brendan’s, Mr MacNeil said he was ‘flabbergasted’ to read that the project plan for the replacement of the hospital and the care home was described as being ‘at a crossroads’.

He said: “This situation has been going on for years. About 8 years ago Nicola Sturgeon, the then Health Minister, visited St Brendan’s and was surprised to see corridors used as storage, this situation has not moved on.  What the community wants or where it wants the facility has been routinely ignored or rushed in the belief that the project was running out of time when each time deadlines were passed as a matter of course.

“The replacement of St Brendan’s is not just necessary but absolutely crucial. It is shambolic that this project is still as it is and as I understand it the Outline Business Case has still not been submitted to the Scottish Government due to an issue over access to the existing site and lack of consideration of a better site. It beggars belief that this is still being talked about and is not yet a reality.

“I will be asking the council and the health board to address the Care Inspectorate’s recommendations as a matter of great urgency.”