Feedback from a Spanish doctor who enjoyed his second locum in the Outer Hebrides, working in a remote A&E department through Templars Medical
I work in the Western Isles Hospital in Stornaway
I work in the Western Isles hospital in Stornoway as a middle grade A&E doctor plus COD (Children on call doctor) performing night shifts. I attend all the adult and children emergencies which arrive to the A&E department. I have to also attend the potential emergencies of the admitted patients in several other wards around the hospital including; two medical wards, one surgical, maternity, medical assessment unit, high dependency unit, psychiatric unit and two wards for long term patients. All the above gives me a wide range of patients and pathologies to attend; medical and trauma emergencies from car accidents or pneumonias to twisted ankles or bronchiectasis. During the night shift, in addition to each wards nursing team, I am supported by two senior nurses who do a fabulous job taking care of the admitted patients and the emergency nurse who provides essential help when dealing with the A&E cases. As the COD I am also responsible for attending the deliveries and practice neonatal resuscitation if needed.
Remote medicine is really challenging
Remote medicine is really challenging because besides the already demanding practice of emergency medicine on adults and paediatric patients you must always keep in mind the logistics aspects of the medical care. Your medical job does not end when the patients have been properly assessed, diagnosed and prescribed. Sometimes the patient needs further referral or treatment which is not provided in the remote hospital, so you must plan ahead, as soon as possible for all these issues.
Working in this environment means you must bear in mind a lot of variables (like the weather or the availability of air transport) which usually you don’t pay attention to. Also it means many of the consultations I have to do are by phone or online. I have to practice my communication skills and my ability to transmit as much information as possible so the consultant at the other side of the video conference or the phone can get the most accurate information possible.
You can enjoy a ride on the ferry from Stornoway to Ullapool
This is an unusual locum for me as I am only doing night shifts. When the night has been busy I try to buy some food and go home to sleep. I do some exercise and shower before I go to the hospital. The days when A&E is quiet and I am able to spend some time in the operation theatres where the anaesthesiologists let me practice intubations and airway management or go to the sport centre where I do some lifting or use the swimming pool. Some nights I go to pub to listen to live Scottish music. On the Isle of Lewis there are several very interesting archaeological sites like the Callanish Stones or St Columba 14th century church which are definitely worth a visit. Of course, you can enjoy a ride on the ferry from Stornoway to Ullapool, visit the Highlands or even spend a weekend in Edinburgh or Glasgow.
Meet other colleagues from all over the world
In Stornoway the locums live in an area called Laxdale Court. Locum doctors and nurses live in blocks of three rooms, one kitchen, one living room and a bathroom each. It is very interesting; you can meet other colleagues from all over the world. Last time one of my neighbours was a Scottish GP and after some weeks of getting to know each other, we now share a close friendship.
I have a really, really good relationship with Templars
I have a really, really, good relationship with Templars and my recruitment consultant. This is my second locum here in the Outer Hebrides. Besides this, thanks to Templars, I have also worked twice in King Edward VII Memorial Hospital in Stanley (Falklands Islands). This is also an extremely remote hospital. For my first locum in the Falklands, the plane was cancelled due to severe weather in the South Atlantic. There are only two flights per week to Stanley but Templars make all the arrangements and I got to spend three marvellous days in the British countryside waiting for the next plane.