NHS on Bute ‘ready for Syrian challenge’

Elaine Garman is head of public health for NHS Highland in Argyll and Bute.
Elaine Garman is head of public health for NHS Highland in Argyll and Bute.

Doctors in Rothesay are ready to tackle any health challenges presented by the island’s new Syrian families, according to the local head of public health for the NHS.

Elaine Garman from NHS Highland said the local health board was in the process of recruiting an additional community psychiatric nurse to help deal with any mental health issues encountered by the families as a result of their experiences in Syria and in the refugee camp in Lebanon which has been their home for the last year.

“We don’t know every clinical need,” Mrs Garman told The Buteman, “but we know from looking at other programmes that there are certain things we can anticipate.

“There may be issues encountered around general medical services, but the local GPs are really upbeat and saying ‘we can do this’.”

The 15 families coming to Bute comprise 28 adults and 31 children, though a 32nd is on the way after one family discovered they are expecting another child.

As with all the aspects of the resettlement programme, funding is being provided for the next 12 months by the UK Home Office.

“We’re in the process of recruiting an additional CPN for the community mental health team,” Mrs Garman continued. “Our physiotherapy waiting lists are very short and we can provide dental health through the public dental health services.”

Mrs Garman acknowledged that the NHS had encountered difficulties in attracting new staff to the Highland area as a whole, but said local staff were confident they can manage the additional workload.

“We will continue to review the situation,” Mrs Garman said, “but the GP practice is saying they can cope.

“We would hope to have people’s needs met within a year, and any additional needs we would hope will be very small. Any big issues would be taken back to the Scottish Government.”