MSG criticised for staff conditions by ex-doctor

Dr Clare Betteridge
Dr Betteridge said the on call hours were the hardest thing to get used to [BBC]

A former doctor at Guernsey's Medical Specialist Group (MSG) has criticised the organisation for "not doing enough" to keep staff.

Paediatrician Dr Clare Betteridge has recently moved to South Africa after working at the MSG for seven years.

She said in Guernsey "you're earning a very similar salary" to the UK, with "more on call shifts" which she believed made the roles unattractive.

MSG chair Dr Steve Evans acknowledged there were more on call shifts for specialists than the UK but said the "intensity" of local shifts was less than the UK.

Dr Betteridge said the job was "challenging" at the start as she had to move her entire life to the island to take on the role.

"The job is quite different to a normal NHS consultant job, as it's a lot more hours.

"In Guernsey you're on call once every third day, whereas in the UK it's 10.

"It was stressful and took quite a lot of time to get used to."

After practising on island for seven years Dr Betteridge said she was going to "seriously miss" some of her patients.

She said in the time working she had become very close to some of them and one had even knitted her a mini sofa for her cat.

Dr Evans said the current conditions offered by the MSG would not put of staff from coming to work in Guernsey.

"Guernsey is an island life and attracts a certain type of doctor," he said.

"The on-call is different, and you have to accept that."

He said a new paediatrician behind Dr Betteridge had been hired by the MSG.

Sofa for a cat
One of Dr Betteridge's regular patients knitted her a mini sofa for her cat [BBC]

In 2023, the MSG's paediatrics department came under fire from a number of families who were critical of staff when second opinions were sought.

Dr Betteridge said "it's been really difficult" and the impact on her colleagues was "hard to watch".

Cataract operation delays

Recently health bosses said staffing issues at the MSG had led to delays with cataract operations.

Val Newman, who had been waiting 16 months for an operation, decided in the end to go to the UK for surgery.

"I was absolutely disgusted with the delays, I was really upset as it felt like I would lose my independence."

Ms Newman was worried she would not be able to renew her driving licence and that would leave her housebound.

"It would have been everything gone, I couldn't have gone out."

Val Newman, who had been waiting 16 months for an eye operation went to the UK for treatment
Following surgery in the UK Val Newman said her eyes were improving [BBC]

Eventually Ms Newman decided to have the surgery in the UK.

"I was terrified about getting on the plane and after the operation it was really difficult as I couldn't really see a thing, it was quite scary," she said.

Following the surgery she said her eyes were improving.

Dr Evans apologised for the delays to cataract surgeries but said the organisation was focussing on conditions which lead to a loss of sight like macular degeneration.

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