Skye SOS-NHS health group chair to step down

Catriona MacDonald welcomes the publication of Sir Lewis Ritchie’s health care report last May. Photo credit: Willie Urquhart.

The chair of SOS-NHS Skye has this week announced she will step down from the role following a meeting of the health pressure group held on Monday.

Catriona MacDonald informed the Free Press of her decision on Tuesday citing the progress of the Ritchie Report implementations as the main reason for her departure.

During her tenure as chair, Mrs. MacDonald has lobbied the Scottish Parliament as part of a petition against the redesign of local health care services, protested the downgrading of services at Portree Hospital, and worked in tandem with NHS Highland management and a range of other stakeholders to help implement Sir Lewis Ritchie’s out of hours health care recommendations for Skye, Lochalsh and South West Ross.

Commenting to the Free Press, she said: “After three years as secretary and two years as chair, and now that we have Portree Urgent Care Centre functioning 24/7 and the second Portree Hospital ward reopened, I am standing down as chair.”

Catriona MacDonald leads a protest outside the Highland Council’s Tigh na Sgire offices against the downgrading of services at Portree Hospital in 2017. Photo credit: Willie Urquhart.

Reflecting on her time with the group, she went on to add: “I’ve been part of SOS-NHS Skye since it formed and people have come and gone, all contributing something different when they could. Somehow it all came together as the wider community showed how important the cause was by coming out to rallies, signing our petition, and lobbying politicians.

“I could write a book on what so many people have done. Sarah, the first chair of the group, who galvanised our campaign, said it could take years, and she was right. But it was worth it because five years later we have Portree Hospital open and well-staffed again, there for the people of this community when they need it. 

She went to add: “I am optimistic about the future. Following the blueprint that Sir Lewis Ritchie gave us a year ago, we have made huge progress in learning to work in co-production not only with NHS Highland but also with NHS24, the Scottish Ambulance Service, NHS Education Scotland, Highland Council, and the Skye and Lochalsh Housing Association.

“Going forward we hope to involve even wider community representation in implementing the Ritchie Report, so we can all contribute to shaping future health provision for this area.”

SOS-NHS Skye will hold its AGM on 25th July which will offer a chance for new office bearers to be appointed.

More information to follow in next week’s Free Press.

Article by Adam Gordon