Wednesday, November 20, 2019
The skye times mobile

Hundreds gathered in Somerled Square today (Saturday 28 October) for a day of action regarding island health care.

The crowd heard from Councillors John Gordon, Ronald MacDonald and John Finlayson, as well as Kate Forbes MSP and Ian Blackford MP - all of whom marched through Wentworth Street carrying a "Save Portree Hospital" banner.

NHS Highland stated on Friday 27 October that the Scottish government has approved a request for an external view to look at the arrangements for north Skye in terms of urgent care, minor injury and access to A&E services.

Councillor John Gordon told The Skye Times: "It was good seeing so much support from the day of action in Portree.

"Yet again our communities gathered to send a clear message to NHSH and the Scottish Government that we will not accept decisions about health care as a result of mismanagement and incompetency.

"NHSH are out of touch with reality and what is going on in our communities and its time they listened and acted.

Councillor John Gordon continued: "The Highlands are rising up against what NHSH are doing and for all our elected politicians to get behind the banner 'Save Portree Hospital' sends a powerful message to NHSH and the Scottish Government that we want a robust health care service and that means a proper community hospital called Portree Hospital.

"All we are asking for is basic care that we are all entitled to.  NHSH need to step up and deliver otherwise its time to they stepped down but what is happening cannot go on.  We want a health care system that works for all our rural areas and that was very clear in our day of action day."

In September, Health Secretary Shona Robison said NHS Highland needed to improve communication with communities on Skye.

There are concerns in the north of the island about a redesign of the island's hospital provision, and also staffing problems at Portree Hospital.

Ms Robison said a special liaison group will be set up to make sure islanders are properly informed about changes to Skye's hospital services.

From left to right: Sarah Marshall, John Finlayson, Ronald MacDonald, Ian Blackford, Kate Forbes and John Gordon addressing the crowds.  

The crowd marched through the streets carrying balloons and placards reading: "Save Portree Hospital."

Councillor Ronald MacDonald addressed the problems faced by islanders regarding health care, including the distance and time involved in making their way to Raigmore Hospital in Inverness.  

A letter was read out from Rhoda Grant MSP, who was unable to attend the Portree day due to a prior arrangement.  

On Wednesday, Rhoda stated: "The Scottish Government needs to sit up and take notice as public unrest about the rural health service sweeps across the Highlands and Islands.

"Two public health protests are being held at the weekend, one organised by CHAT in Caithness supporting Thurso’s Dunbar Hospital and Wick Town and County Hospital and the other by SOSNHS Skye.

"NHS Highland is taking the flak but it shouldn’t be forgotten that it is being forced to make an “unprecedented scale” of budget savings over the next three years – cuts of £100million may be needed by 2020.

"These cuts come directly from the Scottish Government which could invest more in health services if they wanted to.

"People need to have confidence there are adequate health services on their doorstep, especially with the distance from centres such as Raigmore. Under pressure front-line staff need more support and need to see new ways of keeping rural health services meeting the needs of people in their areas

"Although I am speaking at the Caithness rally, arranged before the Skye campaigners’ protest on the same day, I have been liaising with SOSNHS Skye about its concerns.

"I know the strength of feeling in Caithness and on Skye about changes being made to their health services and think it is time for Government to take action – which speaks louder than any warm words."

The large crowd listened attentively to Kate Forbes.  

The crowd also heard from Sarah Marshall, once chair of SOS NHS.  

Finally, the crowd dispersed to the sound of the pipes.  

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