Concern over paediatrician shortage

MSP Willie Rennie has voiced his concerns.
MSP Willie Rennie has voiced his concerns.

A mum has hit out at the lack of community paediatricians, as she continues to wait to have her son assessed for ADHD and autism.

It has been revealed that there is no community paediatrician in St Andrews, after the last person in the role retired.

Although the service had been providing emergency review appointments for patients on medication to be seen in Glenrothes, this has now come to an end as the locum paediatrician covering the clinic has retired.

The St Andrews post has been advertised three times but there has been no interested or applications.

One of the people affected by the shortage is St Andrews mum, Dr Sarah Bennison.

“I’m baffled as to why this important issue affecting so many local children has gone under the radar for so long,” Dr Bennison said.

“As a parent whose child is affected by this issue, I haven’t had any communication from the NHS to inform me of these extended delays. I only learned about the community paediatrician vacancy through word of mouth and I’m disappointed to learn that the staff shortage still hasn’t been resolved.

““It took an entire year for my child’s referral to be processed. That’s just to get onto the waiting list. To get this far and then to find out the waiting list is stagnant is incredibly frustrating.

“Thankfully, my child’s school is supportive but it’s impossible to give a child the support and adjustments they need in all areas of life without knowing specifically which condition, or conditions, they may have.

“I’ve been told that we would be lucky to have my eight-year-old’s assessments completed before high school. That isn’t good enough.

“Who is supporting these children and their families while they face extended delays? I would ask that the NHS take immediate action and arrange for the children to be assessed by paediatricians in neighbouring areas.”

Dr Bennison contacted MSP Willie Rennie about the issue, who has written to the Health Secretary to urge them to investigate and clarify what action the Scottish Government are taking to address ongoing vacancies.

He said: “This is an unacceptable situation which needs to change. Dr Bennison and her family have been forced to wait over a year for a process which shouldn’t take longer than three months.

“Not only is the wait distressing for everyone involved, but these waits mean a
delay to any treatment that could be required.

“This does not appear to be an isolated incident – the letter from Fife Health and Social Care Partnership indicates that there is a national shortage due to a lack of interest. The shortage is down, in part, to a lack of adequate workforce planning.

“The Health Secretary needs to urgently investigate vacancies across the NHS and take immediate action to remedy these long waits.”

A partnership spokesperson said: “There is a national shortage of paediatricians and therefore NHS Fife and Fife Health & Social Care Partnership are working together to undertake considerable redesign to address the situation including incorporating the skills and expertise of other health professionals.

“In the meantime we continue to progress recruitment and we continue to discuss solutions jointly with Tayside colleagues.”