Page last updated at 10:46 GMT, Tuesday, 8 December 2009

Savings 'needed' for patient care at NHS Highland

Hospital waiting - generic
Ms Sturgeon praised NHS Highland for reducing waiting lists

NHS Highland will need to make spending efficiencies so it can pay for new drug treatments and equipment, according to the board's chairman Gary Coutts.

His comments followed the health authority's annual review led by Health Secretary Nicola Sturgeon.

Members of the public at the meeting said they were concernerd about an ongoing bed review in hospital wards.

Mr Coutts said: "We have to redesign the way we provide services to improve patient care."

He added: "We want to be in a position to be able to provide new drug therapies when they become available and be able to make sure we have got the best equipment."

Delayed discharge

Mr Coutts also said NHS Highland wanted to allow more patients to receive care in their homes, or close to where they live.

Last month, the health board said it had moved on from a time when older patients were staying in hospital for years rather than being cared for at home.

Mr Coutts said six to seven years ago patients were "living in hospital for several years".

However, the board and Highland Council are having to tackle one of the worst bed-blocking problems in Scotland.

According to government statistics, some patients have had to wait more than six weeks to leave hospital.

Scottish government statistics showed NHS Highland and NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde have experienced the largest increases in bed-blocking, or delayed discharge.

Highland Council's social work chairwoman Margaret Davidson said the local authority has been spending £1m every year for the last three years to provide home care, but said there was "room for improvement".

Ms Sturgeon praised the board and staff for progress made in reducing waiting lists and in improving infection control.

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