Provision of 24/7 urgent care at Skye capital hospital on track for May

The provision of 24-hour care at Portree is on course for May this year. Photo credit: Willie Urquhart – WHFP.

The provision of 24-hour urgent care at Portree Hospital is on schedule to be fully operational by May of this year, according to the Ritchie report steering group which met for its first meeting of 2019 in Portree on Tuesday this week.

It was also announced that the Scottish Ambulance Service will recruit an additional six paramedics to be stationed at Portree Hospital over the next year as part of the implementation of Sir Lewis Ritchie’s out-of-hours healthcare recommendations for Skye, Lochalsh and South West Ross.

Meanwhile, David Park, chief officer of NHS Highland’s North Highland Health and Social Care partnership said that an options appraisal would attempt to find a permanent solution for out-of-hours urgent care on Raasay – as one of five areas which required corrective action in the progress report published by Sir Lewis in late 2018.

The chair of Raasay Community Council, Anne Gillies said she would consider it a failure if an out-of-hours nurse for the island was not appointed by May 2019 during an information meeting held as part of a six-month review of the report held in Portree in December.

Sir Lewis Ritchie, the author of the out of hours health care report, visited Skye in December to assess the progress of the recommendations. Photo credit: Willie Urquhart -WHFP.

Tuesday’s meeting also heard that senior managers from NHS 24 will join NHS Highland officials on a visit to Skye and Glenelg in late February. The meeting with community representatives will support the development of proposals for the district.

Findings in the recent six-month review stated that progress concerning Glenelg and Arnisdale required corrective action, with the community expressing frustration that the recommendations had not been achieved “jointly or rapidly” as set out in the original report.

NHS Highland and NHS 24 are working together to pilot advance nurse practitioners undertaking a dual role for both organisations in Portree and Broadford. This work is ground-breaking and its purpose is to underpin a resilient out-of-hours service.

The Scottish Ambulance Service has announced that an additional six paramedics will be stationed at Portree Hospital over the next year. Photo credit: Willie Urquhart.

An action plan for recruiting and training first responders on Skye is underway by the Scottish Ambulance Service. Graham MacLeod, head of service for the Highlands, told the meeting that it is hoped recruitment can begin at the end of March.

Graham said that SAS is developing a case, that if successful, would see the recruitment of six additional staff in Portree to have the ambulance based there operating 24/7 and see the elimination of on call in Portree in 2019/20.

The steering group was established in 2018 as part of the implementation process of Sir Lewis Ritchie’s out-of-hours healthcare report.

The group’s next meeting is scheduled for 12th February and will focus on the provision of community beds at Portree Hospital.

Article by Adam Gordon