Health care progress for Raasay and Glenelg as communities are being listened to “at last”

Raasay Community Council Chair Anne Gillies has been at the forefront of the community’s efforts to have an out-of-hours health care provision re-established on the island.

The chair of Raasay Community Council has said there is a “feeling at last” that the community and NHS Highland are now working together to address issues which have impeded the implementation of out-of-hours health care cover on the island.

Commenting to the Free Press following the latest health care meeting held on the island, Chair Anne Gillies said: “The Raasay Nurse Group had its fourth meeting with NHS Highland on Raasay on Wednesday 13th February, facilitated by Dr Miles Mack. We considered different options for providing nursing cover on Raasay and focussed our attention on those most likely to lead to a positive outcome.

“Although there is still quite some way to go, there was a feeling that, at last, we are working together towards addressing the issues which have, so far, prevented progress. NHS Highland has agreed to get more detail on the different options, and we look forward to meeting again early in March.”

Speaking in his role as the independent facilitator overseeing health care recommendations as part of Sir Lewis Ritchie’s out-of-hours report, Mr Mack described the Raasay meeting as “positive”.

He added: “There are real and difficult challenges in designing a model of care that is safe and sustainable for the community. The clear desire is for easy access to care that is based on the island.

“Everyone is working hard to explore all possible options and ensure the community has the services it needs to grow and thrive in the future.”

Ms Gillies added that the response to the offer of heart start training on the island had been “excellent” with 20 people having attended the courses held on Raasay earlier this month. “The training was appreciated by all concerned and the instructors even managed to fit in a session for Raasay Primary School pupils”, she said

Dr Miles Mack has said that the Glenelg and Arnisdale health care model depends on “close collaborative working involving the community and NHS Highland.”

Mr Mack – a former chair of the Scottish Council of the Royal College of General Practitioners – also spoke to the Free Press about the current situation on the Glenelg and Arnisdale peninsula.

He said: “The Glenelg, Arnisdale and NHS Highland Liaison Group met on Wednesday 30th January. The meeting discussed the practicalities of progressing to a service that continues to have a general practice based in Glenelg with a second GP and enhanced coverage of the community provided locally. This model depends on close collaborative work involving the community and NHS Highland.

“We are now looking in more detail at the specific way such an innovative service can be delivered.“

He went on to add: “We had a taste of how weather affects the community as we were delayed in arriving due to snow and ice on the roads. The group is continuing to work hard to overcome the difficult challenges to provide a high-quality local service to the community.”

Jenny Munro of the Glenelg and Arnisdale Patients Representatives Group said: “We continue to work with the facilitated group and are making steady progress in reaching our aims towards safer out of hours and emergency services for Glenelg and Arnisdale.

“We now have some additional weekday nights covered by our advance nurse practitioner which is a welcome step forward.

“It is a positive atmosphere in the group and although it is a very slow process, we feel the unique issues of the Glenelg Peninsula and its surgery’s needs are understood within the working group.”

For more information on Sir Lewis Ritchie’s out of hours health care recommendations, you can visit the official website.

Article by Adam Gordon