Podiatry move to Kelso still causing concern

A Berwickshire Wheels group outing to the podiatrists is on the cards.
A Berwickshire Wheels group outing to the podiatrists is on the cards.

Podiatry patients who previously attended appointments at Duns and Coldstream are now getting used to travelling to Kelso.

But NHS Borders has said thatit is addressing all complaints and concerns raised.

Since 2010 NHS Borders has been planning to introduce a new model of care for key services, including podiatry, and says that centralising podiatry at Kelso “will improve patient care by ensuring equity of access to a full range of specialist podiatry services”.

Removal of podiatry services from Duns and Coldstream was brought up by members of the public at the recent Berwickshire Area Forum meeting.

Edwina Cameron, NHS Borders interim director of workforce and planning, has since replied to the concerns raised, saying: “I have been assured that my colleague, Susan Manion, chief officer, is currently addressing all complaints and concerns raised.”

There was also criticism at the lack of notice given to podiatry patients about the change in service provision.

“They knew they were moving podiatry in December 2013 and my neighbour, approaching 80, heard about it in March 2015,” said Lammermuir Community Council chair Mark Rowley. “That is scandalous and shameful.”

Ms Manion said the hub model would reduce waiting times, although she acknowledged it will mean longer journeys.

“We have been working closely with the Scottish Health Council and members of the public to minimise the impact of any changes and ensure ease of access.

“A jointly agreed letter drafted with the Scottish Health Council and Public Participation Group at NHS Borders was sent to all patients providing details of the services and transport options available.

“We are working alongside Berwickshire Wheels planning appointment times to try to accommodate all parties.

“Voluntary transport services such as Berwickshire Wheels are able to provide a door-to-door service for patients at a reasonable cost.”

Allister Hart from Berwickshire Wheels said: “We are working with the unit in Kelso and as far as possible people are being grouped together.

“It’s early days but what we would like to be able to do is provide the podiatry hub at Kelso with a list of clients we transport so they know those people use our service and in future they can arrange their appointment times accordingly.”

There is some concern at Berwickshire Wheels that if NHS Borders provided all 600 podiatry clients with information about the transport service, they would be their first port of call, rather than only calling on the voluntary drivers if they were otherwise unable to get to their appointments.

“Our problem is that we don’t have enough volunteer drivers, particularly in Coldstream,” added Allister.

Anyone who could help Berwickshire Wheels can contact Allister on 01361 884652.