An external view will be commissioned to look at arrangements for urgent care, minor injury and access to A&E services in North Skye.
NHS Highland confirmed today (Friday 27 October) that the Scottish Government has approved the request for an external view.
Commenting on the announcement David Alston, chair of NHS Highland said: “Despite all our efforts to date, A&E services, emergency planning, and access to 24/7 medical cover, particularly in the north of Skye, continues to be a source of both concern and some confusion.
“I heard this again when I met with representatives of north Skye in August and ongoing also through discussions with others. This is why I made an offer to involve local clinicians and relevant consultants to meet with community representatives. I am in the process of arranging this and I am confident it will take place in early December.
“I would also like to take this a step further and link this into some external opinions of our current arrangements.
“Once this work is completed we would take the findings to the wider public and set up a local forum to oversee any actions.”
He added: “I need to be quite clear that this is not about the wider service redesign for Skye, Lochalsh and South West Ross. That work is ongoing and excellent progress is being made to design the new hospital in Broadford, develop Portree as the ‘spoke’ for the north and strengthen community services.”
Commenting on the proposal for an external view local MSP Kate Forbes said: “It's very important that there is an independent, external view of out of hours and emergency care at Portree Hospital. I'm in no doubt that there is confusion and worry in the north and west of Skye around local provision of emergency care. It's vital that there are reassurances around local provision and I think that should be provided by somebody who is entirely independent and external.
“Most people I speak to make clear that their concern is not with the location of the new hospital but instead around local emergency care in Portree. That's where we must focus our efforts to ensure that there is urgent and out of hours care, not just in theory but also in practice.”
Ian Blackford MP said: "This is an important step forward that creates the opportunity to consider the complimentary nature of services in Portree with the new hospital in Broadford. There are legitimate local concerns as to the future of A&E provision that can be addressed by the establishment of an external view of the arrangements of urgent care, minor injuries and access to A&E.
“I will continue to press NHS Highland for dates around the promised meeting with clinicians and to confirm the Terms of Reference and time-scale for the external input and time-scales."