Progress of Skye, Lochalsh and South West Ross healthcare report to be assessed

SOS-NHS Skye Chair Catriona MacDonald has been one of the key community representatives in the implementation process of the Ritchie Report since its publication in May. Photo credit: Willie Urquhart – WHFP.

Sir Lewis Ritchie is to attend a public information session in Portree this evening (Tuesday 4th December) as part of a review into the progress of the recommendations set out in
his independent report into out-of-hours healthcare across Skye, Lochalsh and South West Ross.

The session will follow on from a day of meetings between Sir Lewis and local councillors, senior NHS Highland management, the board’s partner organisations, health care groups and representatives. Published in May, Sir Lewis’ independent view outlined a raft of recommendations ranging from urgent care at Portree Hospital to transport and accessibility issues across the wider area.

Since the release of the independent review, 15 different working groups have been convening to determine how to implement the recommendations.

A panel made up of Sir Lewis Ritchie, Hugo van Woerden, NHS Highland’s director of public health, David Park, chief officer of the Highland Health and Social Care Partnership and Councillor Ronald MacDonald will be in attendance.

The staff of the NHS Near Me video conferencing service will also be present at the session. The service has already been used in a specially set-up clinic in Caithness General Hospital and the NHS Highland board are now wanting to trial the service’s app for use in people’s homes on Skye.

Dr Miles Mack, who is overseeing the recommendations as the independent facilitator for Raasay and Glenelg and Arnisdale told the Free Press that a review of out of hours calls over the last two years was held at a meeting of the Raasay/NHS Highland Liaison Group held on Tuesday 20th November.

He said: “The group was also keen to investigate if some of the new provisions under the Scottish General Practice Contract would support a widening of the role of nurses on the island and extension of the hours covered. There are a number of practicalities to consider before this is fully agreed and progressed.

“This proposal was developed in collaboration with the community representatives. A number of other plans were considered to improve access to care to islanders in hours and out of hours. This included new travel arrangements, provision of medication on the island and video consultation arrangements (NHS Near Me).”

Dr Mack said that a proposal for an advanced nurse practitioner to cover urgent care in Glenelg and Arnisdale for two additional nights per week when they could stay in the area had been welcomed by the community at a recent meeting on October 8th.

However, there are still concerns that the additional cover would leave “gaps” in the provision and that community representatives were anxious that the service would not meet the needs of the community without local staff based in the area.

Meanwhile, five training post positions and three advanced nurse practitioners have been recruited to strengthen the Broadford Hub team.

The number of beds at Portree Hospital is set to increase by six to 12 in total by May 2019. Photo credit: Willie Urquhart – WHFP.

In the north of Skye, the most notable progress to date concerns the number of hospital beds and in the reinstatement of 24/7 urgent and emergency care.

An additional six beds are to be opened in Portree by May 2019, which will take the total number to 12. Additional staff are being recruited as Portree.

People interested in attending the public information session next Tuesday should note that seating in the council chamber is limited and will be granted on a ‘first come, first served’ basis.

The session will take place in Tigh-na-Sgire in Portree from 5.30pm
until 7 pm.

For more information, visit:

Article by Adam Gordon