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Caithness: Medical practices successfully attract high-calibre clinicians

10th July 2018

NHS Highland has successfully recruited six clinicians - three GPs, two advanced nurse practitioners and a ‘first contact' physiotherapy practitioner - to full and part-time posts in Caithness in the past two months.

Dr David Carson and Dr Mike Ruse are to join recent recruit, advanced nurse practitioner (ANP) Colin Armer, at the Riverbank Medical Practice in Thurso. While Dr Herjit Sutherland is to begin at the Riverview Medical Practice in Wick along with new ANP appointment Vicki Kelly.

Advanced physiotherapist Mike Flavell, meanwhile, is to begin weekly clinics shortly in the NHS Highland-run Riverbank and Riverview practices and Lybster medical centre.

Kath Jones, NHS Highland’s associate medical director North and West, said: "Three Caithness GP practices run by NHS Highland have recently attracted six new clinicians to permanent posts including 3 GPs, two ANPs and a physio practitioner.

“The appointment of so many high-calibre clinicians within such a short space of time is a credit to the quality of the teams working in these practices.

“And the recruitment of three GPs is particularly remarkable considering a quarter of GP practices across Scotland have GP vacancies.

“The recruitment of all the clinicians will improve the continuity of care provided by the practices while introducing access to a specialist primary care physio at the three sites.

“Reducing the reliance on temporary locums will enable NHS Highland to save money whilst improving care and with two of the clinicians moving into the district to take up post this will be good for the local economy, too."

Colin Armer has already taken up his post at the practice on Janet Street, Thurso. David Carson is due to start in August and Mike Ruse in October.

Meanwhile, Vicki Kelly is just about to start her post at the Martha Terrace practice in Wick next week and Herjit Sutherland is due to begin at the end of August.

Mike Flavell, who until now was NHS Highland’s Caithness district manager, will begin his innovative physiotherapy clinics at the practices across Caithness in September.

He believes his clinics will provide a number of benefits for both patients and practices alike.

He said: “25 per cent of appointments at GP practices are for muscular skeletal problems. So, in theory, my physiotherapy clinics could help to take 25 per cent off the GP’s workload. And for people aged over 75, that figure goes up to 38 per cent, so I may be able to provide even more support.”

Dr Sutherland graduated from Medical School at the University of Sheffield in the class of 2011.

She then moved to Glasgow to continue her training, working in all of the city’s central hospitals, before choosing to specialise as a general practitioner.

After 4 ½ years, she moved to Bristol in England with her husband Mark, who had been offered a job there.

She furthered her GP work in Taunton, Somerset, in neighbouring Devon, and in the Bristol area.

Explaining her move to Wick, Herjit said: “I met Mark when I was in Glasgow. He is from Forse and we always planned to come back up north'.

“We’ve just had a baby girl and so thinking about our childcare choices, we came to the conclusion that the time was just right to make a lifestyle decision and make the move back to Caithness'.

Planning to set up the family home in Lybster, Herjit is no stranger to the area.

She said: “Prior to making the decision to move here, we’ve been up and down to Caithness often, mainly for family events like weddings and things like that. What I like about Caithness is that everyone’s friendly and down to earth and it has a great community spirit.

“Community is very important to us. Mark grew up here and what really inspired us to move was that it's a great place to bring up a young family.

Herjit, who will work at the Riverview practice three days a week, was also inspired to move because of the rugged beauty of Caithness.

She said: “We like scenic routes and like the landscape in Caithness. That’s why we chose to live in Lybster, especially the view overlooking the harbour. It's both stunning and tranquil, like most of Caithness.

“It also helps that we know the place, so it’s not a big leap for us. I’m looking forward to working in the local community, as well as being part of it.

“Living and working in a large urban centre like Bristol is all very well, you are certainly surrounded by a lot of people. But what attracted me is that while some of the patients at the Riverview live in more remote locations and are more dispersed, it is more likely that, over time, I’ll be able to get to know them better. After all, this is the whole reason I decided on family medicine as a career.”

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