NHS say “thanks but no thanks” to Portree hospital site offer

NHS Highland have thanked a north Skye businessman for offering them three acres of land for a new hospital just outside Portree but say that the availability of land is not the “over-riding factor” in the location of the facility.

At a meeting in Portree earlier this month, Donald MacSween from Portree (pictured) offered the land, at Sluggans, free of charge. His grandfather bought it in 1952.

PORTREE HOSPITAL - SLUGGANS SITE 1

Speaking this week, he said: “This plot of land is lying there doing nothing and I would prefer to see it being used for a hospital rather than anything else.”

In response, Maimie Thompson, NHS Highland’s head of PR and engagement, said: “We were extremely grateful for the very kind offer by a local resident of a free, three-acre site to build a new hospital in Portree. It was certainly a generous offer, but it’s not one that NHS Highland is in a position to consider at present. The availability of land, either in Portree or Broadford, was not an over-riding factor for the steering group when it recommended Broadford as the location of the proposed ‘hub’ hospital.

“But there is also another more general reason. As I am sure people will understand, NHS Highland cannot locate services on the basis of who is in a position to offer land. This has the potential to create unintended consequences and could undermine what we are determined should be a fair consultation process. Many of our hospitals are where they are because of generous donations but they are not necessarily ideally located.”

Ms Thompson also said that NHS Highland’s consultation into health service redesign has received around 1,500 formal responses and she would “not be surprised” if the number rose to nearer 2,000 by the deadline for submissions at the end of this week.

She added: “The response to the public consultation has been excellent and we are grateful to all who have taken part.”

The consultation into the health board’s preferred option — the main ‘hub’ in Broadford, the ‘spoke’ in Portree — ends tomorrow (Friday). The online questionnaire can be found at www.surveymonkey.com/s/ SkyLochWrossConsul.