Health and Social Care Health and Social Care

Health and Social Care in Orkney

Orkney has excellent health and social care services, with a number of modern facilities - and even a brand new hospital earmarked to open in 2018.

A wide range of health services in Orkney are delivered by NHS Orkney with some specialist services provided on mainland Scotland by other health boards such as NHS Grampian in Aberdeen and NHS Highland in Inverness. NHS Orkney is the smallest health board in Scotland but is responsible for providing many of the services that the larger health boards do.

Balfour Hospital in Kirkwall has six wards, a day hospital, a day surgery unit and departments including physiotherapy, occupational therapy, casualty, outpatients, audiology, radiography, pharmacy, an oral surgery unit, a decontamination unit and a new CT scanner. There are three consultant surgeons delivering general surgery. Patients do not always need to travel south for consultations as telemedicine means video conferencing can be used when appropriate. Specialists also travel to Orkney to conduct clinics and cut down on waiting times and referrals for patients having to travel. Plans for a new hospital in Kirkwall are well underway, with a completion date set for 2018.

Patients who do travel south have their transport arranged through their GP and can choose to go by plane or boat. Patients who need emergency treatment that cannot be delivered in Orkney are transported by Scottish Air Ambulance which operates fixed wing aircraft based in Aberdeen and Glasgow and helicopters based in Glasgow and Inverness. Back-up is supplied when needed by the MoD and coastguard.

GP services with nurse practitioners attached are delivered in two surgeries in Kirkwall and surgeries and clinics in Stromness, Dounby, St Margaret’s Hope, Evie, Eday, Rousay, Stronsay, North Ronaldsay, Sanday, Shapinsay, Longhope and Westray. Papa Westray, Flotta and Eday have no resident GP but do have visiting doctors and nurses. School nurses and health visitors work through the Children’s Services Department.

Orkney also has a number of NHS and private dental practices, which accept new registrations.

Orkney Islands Council provides a range of community social services and runs a number of modern and fully equipped care centres across the islands. Through Orkney Health and Care, a joint body with NHS Orkney, it also provides mental health services, drug and alcohol advice, learning disability services, services for older people and sexual health services.

Complementary health therapists offer a wide range of services in Orkney too.