Catriona Howson, Local Correspondent
Lothian Health Board has decided to close their Intensive Care Unit Follow-up service based in Royal Infirmary, Edinburgh as their latest cutback. The service, which is praised by those who use it, offers support, information, mediation, advice and practical support to patients and relatives.
Founded in 1998 the service came out of research which suggested that patients feel abandoned in Intensive Care, the service has been run solely by Pat Harper, Clinical Nurse Specialist. Pat, who won Scottish Nurse of the Year (1999) for the innovation behind the service, see’s on average 30 people a month and runs a hotline for anyone on the service to phone all day, every day has even spoken to patients on Christmas Day.
“It’s a service to suit the needs of the service users” Pat explains. The service is available to patients who have spent three or more days in ICU and their relatives, who are given appointments immediately. The service is also available to bereaved relatives who receive a card from the service throughout their first year of grief – that way “they can phone when they are ready”. The ICU follow-up service also often receives referrals from GPs, Social Work, other Hospitals and other hospital clinics. It is not just an Edinburgh based service, as Pat has had referrals from Ayr, Glasgow and Fife, which is understandable as it was the only service of its kind in Scotland.