The Orkney Hyperbaric Unit was opened in 1999 as a partnership between NHS Orkney and the Stromness based dive unit of Heriot Watt university. The university dive unit closed in 2003 and since then, the unit has been run by the Orkney Hyperbaric Trust in collaboration with NHS Orkney
The Orkney Hyperbaric Trust was established as a registered Scottish charity with the following aims:-
- To operate a hyperbaric unit for the evaluation and treatment of victims of diving accidents
- To carry out research with the aim of reducing the number of diving accidents
- To increase the safety of divers in Orkney by running appropriate training courses and improving first aid and triage of accidents.
The trust aims to keep the costs charged to both the NHS and the independent sector as low as we can. Any treatments we carry out must be justified by as strong an evidence base as possible and supported by a robust governance structure. Surplus income is reinvested in the service for the benefit of future divers.
OHU has a 2 metre diameter triple lock chamber designed and built for the unit. We have the capability to deliver heliox treatments but the majority of patients are treated with air tables.
The Orkney hyperbaric unit is for the treatment of divers involved in accidents. We do not currently do any elective non-diving related treatments. We work as part of the Scottish chamber network and manage all of our treatments in conjunction with the Aberdeen hyperbaric unit. In addition to the importance of sharing the clinical experience of a small number of treatments to improve overall expertise within the Scottish network, this improves clinical governance and allows continuity of care should any more complex treatment or investigations be necessary outwith the scope of the Orkney unit. The unit is audited triennially as part of the Scottish Chamber network.
Clinicians and Training
OHU has four doctors trained in diving medicine. We currently have 10 trained chamber attendants and 3 permanent and 2 relief chamber operators. All of the attendants are trained within the unit with annual training courses for new staff and obligatory refresher training annually for all staff. In addition we run a range of evening educational meetings and plan to establish video conferencing in the unit this year to broaden our educational connections.