Sturgeon assured over ‘room for improvements’

AFTER visiting the region last week, Scottish health minister Nicola Sturgeon said she had been left in no doubt that local people valued the services provided by NHS Borders.

By The Newsroom
Tuesday, 26th October 2010, 9:23 am

She was commenting after chairing the annual review of services delivered by the health authority in the Corn Exchange, Melrose, when she also spoke to patients and health professionals at the BGH.

“However, there is always room for improvement and I was assured that NHS Borders is working hard to further improve the quality of care and range of services offered,” said Ms Sturgeon.

“Our NHS is cherished by all of us and it should always strive to give quality care to every patient, every time. Health boards deserve credit for their many successes and should take the opportunity to learn where improvements can be made and make changes.

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“That is why it is so important to hold them to account in public ... annual reviews are a great way for this to happen.”

Areas for improvement included the number of so-called alcohol brief interventions (ABIs) which, at 1,211 patients during 2009/10, were well below the target figure of 1,855.

ABIs are aimed at reducing the health risks to the estimated one-fifth of patients treated in GP practices whose drinking is considered risky or hazardous. The content and approach of such interventions, generally restricted to four or fewer sessions, vary depending on the severity of the patient’s alcohol problem and can be used to encourage moderate drinking among those who are not alcohol-dependent or abstinence for those who are alcohol-dependent.

However, Ms Sturegon heard that the “target trajectory” for ABIs had been met for the first time in August this year.

As reported in these columns last week, the identification rates of MRSA in NHS Borders hospitals were above targets in March, but had reduced recently.

On the plus side, rates of C Difficile infection identified were within planned levels and below the Scottish average.

Ms Sturgeon heard NHS Borders was on track to meet the target of 0.5 such infections per 1,000 of occupied beds by March next year.

She was also told that the Borders had the lowest self-referral rate to accident and emergency of all Scottish boards and that waits in excess of four hours were back on track after “issues in the early part of the year”, hitting 99 per cent and 98 per cent in July and August.

NHS Borders had met its 12-week waiting time target for inpatients and outpatients by March, 2009, a year early.

And the minister heard that NHS Borders had the best standard mortality ration (SMR) in Scotland at 0.58. Admission to the intensive care unit with severe sepsis had reduced from 71 per cent to 43 per cent.