Published: 08/06/2014 15:00 - Updated: 06/06/2014 13:07

Pain clinic in Moray could be two years away

Written byChris Saunderson

Dr Gray's hospital.
Dr Gray's hospital.

A PAIN clinic will be re-established at Dr Gray’s Hospital, in Elgin, NHS Grampian has confirmed.

However, it is not yet clear the extent of the service.

Confirmation of the move has come from Richard Carey, chief executive of NHS Grampian, in a letter to Moray Trades Union Council.

They wrote to NHS Grampian earlier this year, as reported in ‘The Scot’, with their concerns over the removal of the pain clinic from Dr Gray’s.

That forced many people in chronic pain to make a 120-mile round trip to outpatient appointments in Aberdeen.

Larry Easton, secretary of the trades council, said members were concerned at the erosion of outpatients’ clinics at Moray’s main hospital.

He said people had become accustomed to using outpatient clinics at the hospital which are generally regarded as excellent.

The "very real concerns" about the future of the pain clinic at Dr Gray’s, added Mr Easton, were compounded by the current lack of a paediatric consultant at the hospital.

The trades council had demanded assurances from NHS Grampian that services will be safeguarded well into the future.

Mr Carey told the trades council that Elgin, historically, had a very basic chronic pain service, which expanded rapidly following the appointment of a consultant anaesthetist in Elgin who was a pain specialist.

However, the service struggled to sustain itself, he added, with growing waiting times.

In November last year the pain specialist left NHS Grampian and delivering a pain service was a small part of his role. A general anaesthetist has since been appointed.

At the same time, the Aberdeen service has struggled to fill a consultant vacancy.

"To ensure a service maintained for all Grampian patients," said Mr Carey, "the pain service was centralised in Aberdeen to maximise the medical time available."

It is hoped to fill the consultant post soon and a new clinical fellow post has also been advertised. A part-time psychologist post is also being recruited.

"I am confident that these changes will make rapid improvements to the waiting times and access to the service.This additional investment will also help to re-establish a service in Elgin but the extent of this service is not yet clear," said Mr Carey.

"Providing outpatient clinics would be part of this but we need to see how the new staffing model develops overall."

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