NHS Tayside’s medical director has said an overhaul of health services will not always be universally popular but will benefit patients.
Professor Peter Stonebridge, the health board’s medical director, said the three -year Transforming Tayside programme aims to maximise the resources the health board has at its disposal.
He said changes in health care and to the number of hours staff are allowed to work means restructuring of services is not only inevitable but must also be an ongoing process.
Professor Stonebridge said the redesign is intended to benefit the greatest number of people possible.
“You need more doctors to offer the same services and therefore they need to be delivered in a more concentrated way,” he said.
“Everyone would like a heart transplant unit down the street but clearly that is not going to happen.
“What we are trying to do is deliver the most healthcare we can within the budget that we’ve got.
“Part of that is how we define our services. If I could treat 10 patients rather than eight as a doctor I’d be pretty damn keen on that.
“That in turn says how do we deliver that care? Does it all have to take place in hospital? Could we deliver closer to home with the use of technology?”
The professor acknowledged NHS Tayside has struggled to stay within budget in previous years but said the health board is now starting with what is effectively a clean slate after the Scottish Government cancelled its outstanding debt.
He said: “It is a very emotive subject and I think it’s a relatively unique circumstance that we are clinically-led.
“There was a day when the roof fell in last year and NHS Tayside was managerially dominated. Now there is a much more central role of the clinicians. That’s clinicians not doctors, half of the clinical staff are not doctors.
“We brought all acute surgery from Perth Royal Infirmary to Ninewells and that was about providing all the necessary interventions, investigations, depth of care and access to theatre, PRI only had an emergency theatre during the day but we’ve got two here.
“So people who are ill get treated quicker and have two consultant surgeons available.
“That allows us to give much better quality care by bringing it together.”
“One or two things will be sufficiently different that people will ask if it will be better and some of those things will be necessity not choice.”
A public consultation on Transforming Tayside will take place at Forfar Community Centre on Saturday but Professor Stonebridge said it is not only about one shake up, but allowing the health board to continually evolve
“One of the issues with Transforming Tayside is it isn’t an event, it’s an attitude. a way of doing business going forward,” he said.
“We’ll never say ‘job done’. We need a mechanism and system where we are always changing and always learning.
“It’s not this service here, this clinic here, it’s more about an attitude.”