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Chatting with Louise Bussell, Chief Officer for NHSH

Tell us about your role? I am currently the Chief Officer for community services within the health and social care partnership of the Highland region including all adult social care services, primary care provision, in-patient and community services for physical health, mental health, learning disability and drug and alcohol services. This role involves setting out and taking forward the strategic direction for our services as well as managing our resources for what we need to do on a daily basis.I do this in close collaboration with a variety of partners, organisations and community groups with the focus being on ensuring the right services are provided at the right time to meet the needs of our population. I see a key role being ensuring that our staff are supported to do their job, feel valued for the work that they do and assisted to provide excellent care by the way our services are planned and led. I have a senior leadership team that is made up of clinicians and managers who are committed to developing our services with our teams and communities.


Your thoughts on healthcare for 2021, looking back,?

Sadly throughout 2021 all of our lives have been impacted upon in so many ways and to varying degrees by Covid-19. As you all know this has been a particular challenge for health and social care services. Despite this challenge I believe that our health and social care staff have provided and continue to provide compassionate care and treatment to those that need their services. There will have been changes to how we do this at times with online and phone calls being substituted for face to face and limitations due to safety that may have felt a more difficult experience and our resources have been stretched on occasions. I believe that everybody concerned has aimed to ensure people get the care and support they need with many people going the extra mile to provide cover and support which is genuinely appreciated. Thank you so much to all of the health and social care staff for their contribution at the most difficult of times.

I think it is essential to take this opportunity to highlight that whilst health and social care providers have done a huge amount over 2021, as was the case in 2020, so many people in local communities have stepped up to help their family, friends, neighbours and wider community. As you know this has always been an important part of living together but this real enhancement of community led support throughout the pandemic has been truly remarkable and life affirming for all concerned. I genuinely believe this will be one positive legacy of Covid.

The vaccination role out has further stretched our capacity over the year but it is so important for our well being and although there have again been difficulties with this at times due to the scale the opportunity to have the vaccine and access to it has been key for our future.


Your aspirations for healthcare for 2022?

I joined NHS Highland in July 2020 as Head of Mental Health services after working in a variety of health and social care clinical and leadership roles. I took up the role of interim Chief Officer in November 2020. As you will see from the timescale sadly I have never experienced working in Highland outside of the pandemic. I am very much looking forward to having this opportunity in the future and hope that this will be in 2022.

We are currently working on a strategy for NHS Highland which is to be called Together we Care. We are consulting on it now and it will be published in 2022. This will help us to shape how we plan and develop our services across Highland and at a local level on Skye. Our ambition is to build a better future for health and care. NHS Highland is the lead agency for adult services in Highland and The Highland Council is the lead agency for children’s services but ensuring we have lifelong services for people provided by a variety of organisations and groups means that we must and will work closely together to develop truly integrated services. For Skye in particular we need to work with all services and the public to ensure that our services meet the needs of the community in the short to medium term whilst we establish and plan a shared vision for the future. Our commitment is to continue with the services we have, support service developments where needed and explore what is required for the years to come.

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