Health minister urged to act on Harris out-of-hours medical cover

Scottish Health Minister Shona Robison has been urged to intervene over the ongoing controversy in Harris surrounding changes in out-of-hours medical cover.

The call has come from Labour’s parliamentary candidate for the Westminster elections, Alasdair Morrison, who said he had recently met with a group of local residents.

NHS Western Isles want to run out-of-hours services in North Harris alongside the rest of Lewis, after the local medical practice in Tarbert became the latest to opt out of having a GP on-call outwith normal working hours.

However, many are concerned over the distances involved as out-of-hours cover will be run from the Western Isles Hospital in Stornoway.

In a letter to Ms Robison, Mr Morrison said he had received numerous representations from the area calling for ministerial intervention as they “feel abandoned by those who are supposed to represent them”.

Mr Morrison said many local residents felt "abandoned by those who are supposed to represent them"
Mr Morrison said many local residents felt “abandoned by those who are supposed to represent them”

Mr Morrison said: “I was shocked to hear from a lady who had to drive her daughter and sick grandchild, late at night, in treacherous winter conditions over the highest roads in these islands to receive medical care in the hospital in Stornoway.

“This is a completely unacceptable and needs to be immediately addressed by you and your department. I would urge you to apply a simple test:  is this a set of circumstances that you would accept for you and your family?

“As well as the obvious implications for those living in Harris, this also affects the health professionals based in Lewis who are expected to provide the additional coverage.”

He added: “As our health minister you must not shirk responsibility but personally involve yourself in this matter and put in place a proper and adequate solution. “