Dementia services in NHS Shetland, including any staffing issues, are assessed by Scottish Government officials as part of their twice-yearly visits to all national health service boards to review mental health services, and as part of the annual review of boards. A local dementia action plan for Shetland was produced for 2012-13 and the board and local authority are working together to redesign services to better meet the needs of people with dementia.
A constituent of mine who has dementia has been regularly transferred to the Royal Cornhill hospital in Aberdeen. Does the cabinet secretary understand the difficult circumstances that that creates for his family? Will he undertake to work with NHS Shetland to consider how best services can be delivered through investment in the necessary staff and, potentially, capital investment in an appropriate facility, with the aim of finding a way to minimise the amount of travel? Inevitably, such travel means that patients are further away from their families in what are extremely difficult times.
I am aware of the circumstances that the member describes and I am extremely sympathetic to the point that he raises. We recognise that there are particular challenges in island communities because of the number of people involved. Specialist services are sometimes required that are available only on the mainland.
Shetland has a dementia services manager, who is funded by the Scottish Government and Alzheimer Scotland, a clinical nurse specialist in dementia and four dementia champions. There is also a great deal of community activity in Shetland to support people with dementia, including the Annsbrae supported housing scheme, which has a team of workers that is led by a service manager and which provides an alternative model to going into a care home or acute services. I am aware of the specific challenges that are presented by the kind of case to which the member refers. We are considering whether, in future, we can handle more of those cases in Shetland.
Further to Tavish Scott’s question, I understand that the new dementia strategy that is due next month will recommend four test sites to support people in the mid to later stages of dementia. Could one of those sites be in a remote and rural area such as the Highlands or, indeed, one of the island groups such as the Shetlands?