The northern island’s primary healthcare was thrown into turmoil last year, when the island’s medical centre was threatened with closure, after the surgery’s only doctor warned he was exhausted and at risk of burnout.
The States of Alderney and Guernsey then stepped in last May and the practice was subsequently acquired by government in October 2022.
A joint Guernsey and Alderney political forum, the Alderney Care Board, was formed to explore how health and care provision in Alderney could evolve, taking into account transferred and on-island services.
A recent report by the Head of Alderney Care, Will Pierce, to Alderney’s Policy & Finance Committee outlined the progress made in discussions across the various care providers to co-ordinate healthcare and better support islanders’ health and wellbeing.
Face-to-face GP appointments at the IMC increased almost 20% in the first half of 2023 compared with the same period last year, while the number of nursing blood tests has increased 38%.
This is because a key objective of full staffing levels of GPs and nurses has been achieved, minimising the risk of overwhelming the island’s primary care service, as last year.
A dedicated on-call GP is available 24/7 and GP appointments are being delivered every working day.
Separate steps to enter a formal arrangement with St John Ambulance have also benefitted the island, but these developments are the predominant factors in Alderney’s expected budget deficit for this year.
But Alderney's States has identified potential budget savings for the rest of the year.
A major cost has been the need to parachute in GP locums to meet the island’s medical needs.
From next month, Alderney will have a clinical lead employed on-island, helping to reduce that need.
Policy and Finance Committee chairman Nigel Vooght said there was strong collaboration within Alderney’s health and care system.
‘This has clearly indicated the willingness of healthcare workers across Alderney to collectively develop new ways of working and ultimately deliver value for money,’ he said.
‘We look forward to the next steps in this integrated approach vision, which the committee is convinced will deliver an enviable standard of health and social care involving all stakeholders working together collaboratively, with the added benefit of reducing costs.’
Acquiring the centre put extra strain on Alderney’s budget.
The island's new Property Tax has been increased to help meet the primary healthcare costs incurred, particularly regarding the Island Medical Centre and maintaining continuity of service.