Ian Blackford MP and Kate Forbes MSP are welcoming the findings of a report on the future of NHS care delivery on Skye.
The report was commissioned by NHS Highland after numerous concerns were raised by people living in North Skye as to the provision of services in the area when the new Broadford Hospital opens. These worries were compounded by the temporary withdrawal of Out-of-Hours (OOH) cover on several occasions over the past festive season.
Ian Blackford and his colleague, Kate Forbes MSP, raised these matters with NHS Highland as the situations developed and continued to follow them up asking that NHS Highland look at these failings and produce a plan to prevent any recurrence.
In response to this pressure and that of a strong public campaign, a report was instigated under the leadership of Sir Lewis Ritchie, the results of which have just been revealed.
Ian Blackford said: “I warmly welcome the publication of Sir Lewis Ritchie’s report and am delighted with the recommendations he has made. I believe these deal with the legitimate concerns that many constituents had in the North of Skye both in terms of urgent and emergency care and the ongoing provision of beds in Portree.
“The NHS is a service we should all be proud of and have full trust in. Sadly, it had become the case that concerns in the north of the island, as well as in Raasay and Glenelg have undermined trust in the management of local service delivery. This was despite the excellence of our local NHS and Scottish Ambulance Service practitioners who continued to have the full support of the community.
“Recommendations that Out-of-Hours urgent and emergency care access at Portree hospital should be retained 24/7 along with in-patient bed availability until alternative resilient provision is provided in the north end of Skye is largely what we have fighting for.
Kate Forbes MSP said: “After months of waiting, this report from Professor Sir Lewis Ritchie is a robust defence of the need to keep Portree Hospital open and to ensure there is adequate emergency services provision and long-term care beds. “I hope that it is the light at the end of the tunnel for local campaigners and residents who have been anxious about the future of Portree Hospital. “The frequent suspensions of out-of-hours and the closure to new admissions was totally out of order and I’m pleased to read a note of contrition in NHS Highland’s response to the report. “The key now is to implement the recommendations and I’m pleased that Sir Lewis Ritchie will be ensuring the plan is soundly implemented.”
Ian Blackford said: “When I first stood for election in 2015, while I welcomed plans for the new hospital in Broadford, I also strongly made the case for retaining emergency care and care beds in Portree.
“It has been a long fight to get NHS Highland to recognise the strength of feeling to guarantee the maintenance of services in the north end of Skye with 24/7 emergency care as well as the retention of beds, which are regarded as vital.
“I would like to congratulate everyone who has participated in this campaign as we now move on to the detailed work and implementation phase which has to include community engagement. I hope that NHS Highland will work proactively and enthusiastically to implement the key recommendations in the report.
“There will of course have to be multi agency co-operation, such as collaboration with the Scottish Ambulance Service on suggested new methods of deployment. The issue of promoting staff recruitment and retention is another issue of paramount importance.
“What we have is a roadmap towards excellent delivery of healthcare in the north end of Skye. This must now happen!”