Lucky escape sparks Portree medical concerns

A Portree resident has praised staff at Portree Hospital for their professionalism after his partner received prompt life-saving treatment for anaphylaxis.

However, the fortunate escape has sparked a warning that others might not be so lucky amid escalating staffing problems within the out of hours urgent care centre in the hospital.
Donnie Nicolson described the quick and effect care his partner Rosie McDade received by the medical team at Portree as “true professionalism at its best” after an anaphylactic reaction left her struggling to breathe or walk.

The 43-year old insurance adviser took ill at home in Portree on Friday (22nd December) shortly after eating prawns. She was quickly taken into Portree Hospital by Mr Nicolson where she was treated by the medical team. Her symptoms were brought under control and after a few hours of further observation she was able to go home.

Rosie’s sudden illness came on the same day as NHS Highland announced it would be temporarily suspending the Minor Injuries/Urgent Care Centre at Portree Hospital – effective from the week beginning 25th December – due to “safety concerns raised over the number of available qualified staff – especially advanced nursing practitioners in Portree.”

The local health authority said it its statement that it was “safer to provide the (out of hours) service from a single site at Dr MacKinnon Memorial Hospital.” And that there was a “greater risk of clinical error if Portree patients are managed remotely without a senior practitioner onsite.”

Mr Nicolson believes that the critical situation faced by Rosie – who had eaten prawns many times before without suffering any reaction – could have ended very differently had it happened a week later when the appropriate staff might not be in place to provide life-saving treatment.

He said: “Anaphylaxis is a life-threatening severe allergic reaction. It is a medical emergency that requires immediate treatment and as Rosie had never experienced anything like this previously she had no Epipen.

“Had we gone to Portree Hospital and found there was not the appropriate staff or equipment we would have had to go to Broadford. The journey would have required an ambulance under blue lights, but would there have been an ambulance available?

“Rosie needed adrenaline – the delaying of this can result in deterioration and death. The treatment that Rosie received within 20 minutes of experiencing symptoms saved her life. If this had happened just a week later when we believe the same level of care will not be available in Portree – the outcome may have been very different.”