Dementia unit shut by staffing pressures

AN NHS unit for dementia sufferers has been closed on a temporary basis because of staffing pressures.

A combination of vacancies and staff sick leave is behind the decision to close the Harmsworth Unit at the Town and County Hospital in Wick.

Dr Dirk Maliepaard, consultant psychiatrist for NHS Highland, said the four patients who are currently in the ward have had their needs individually reassessed to ensure they could be safely transferred to other units in the Highlands.

It comes after the children’s ward at St John’s Hospital in Livingston had to shut for three weeks due to staff shortages. It is due to reopen on July 30.

Pauline Craw, rural general hospital manager, said the immediate focus was on recruiting staff to enable the unit to safely re-open as soon as possible. Discussions about the temporary redeployment of staff while the unit remains closed have already started.

Gill McVicar, director of operations for North and West Highland, said: “I am very disappointed and sorry we are having to take this action.”