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Council reinstatement call of 24/7 NHS Emergency Cover, Portree and North Skye

3rd July 2017

Members of The Highland Council have agreed that an approach should be made to the Cabinet Secretary for Health and Sport, Shona Robison, to come to meet with the Leader of Highland Council, Cllr Margaret Davidson and the four Skye councillors on behalf of the Skye and Raasay Committee to request that the 24/7 NHS Emergency Cover be reinstated for Portree and North Skye.

The meeting with the four Skye councillors will also include Members from Ward 5 (Wester Ross,Strathpeffer and Lochalsh).

Members agreed the approach to the Cabinet Secretary following discussion on a motion to the Meeting of The Highland Council on Thursday 29 June from 3 Skye Councillors; Cllr Callum MacLeod, Cllr Ronald MacDonald and Cllr John Gordon which stated:

"The people of Skye and Raasay are asking for 24/7 NHS Emergency Cover to be reinstated for Portree and North Skye. The people of Skye and Raasay also have widespread unease about the NHS Highland redesign process with many key questions remaining unanswered.

"Since these unanswered questions relate literally to life and death issues, we ask the Highland Council to approach the Cabinet Secretary for Health & Sport, Shona Robison, to come to meet with the Leader of Highland Council and with the four Skye Councillors on behalf of the Isle of Skye and Raasay Committee."

Members also discussed the NHS response tabled to the Council from NHS Highland's Chair David Alston. See below.

Briefing from David Alston

Chair NHS Highland

27th June 2017

Dear Council Members

Redesign process for health and social care: Skye, Lochalsh and South West Ross

I write in regard of the motion signed by three Councillors for Eilean a' Cheò (Skye).

Background to the redesign

Communities of Skye, Lochalsh and South West Ross are served by two hospitals (Dr MacKinnon's in Broadford) and Portree Community Hospital. As part of a major redesign of services the preferred option included co-locating all the inpatient beds in a new hospital to be built in Broadford which would also see strengthening of out-of-hospital services.

Major service change process

NHS Highland followed the major service change process CEL4 (2010) involving local stakeholders, including local councillors, in options appraisal followed by a formal three month public consultation (19 May to 31August 2014). Over 50 meetings took place and a survey was delivered to every home and business in the area. Of the 2,273 who responded over 80% supported the preferred model of service. 57% also favoured the Broadford as the preferred location for the new hospital whereas 29% supported it to be built in Portree.

The preferred option and the consultation process were also supported by The Highland Council, Scottish Ambulance Service, Scottish Fire and Rescue Service, Highlands and Islands Enterprise and the Highland Hospice. The full consultation report including the responses from Partner agencies is available HERE

Furthermore the Scottish Health Council who acts as independent arbiters endorsed that the process was in accordance with Scottish Government Guidance, and in summary reported:

"Based on our review and feedback from local people we are satisfied that NHS Highland has followed Scottish Government guidance on involving local people in the consultation. Overall, feedback received indicated that the majority of people had understood the reasons for change, how the proposals had been developed, felt listened to and that there has been sufficient opportunities to take part in the consultation."

The Cabinet Secretary for Health and Wellbeing in her response to the board in February 2015 noted that she had ‘carefully considered the proposals’ and was ‘content’ to approve the Board’s proposals highlighting the ‘considerable efforts’ made. Her full response can be found Here. Since then the Scottish Government has also approved the Initial Agreement which is a key step to securing the significant investment of around £15m for the area.

24/7 NHS emergency cover to be reinstated for Portree and North Skye.

NHS Highland’s position on this is very clear. The service provided from Portree Community Hospital is a GP-led Minor Injury Unit (MIU). It has never had an Accident and Emergency Unit (as nationally recognised - there are only four in Highland). The MIU operates seven days a week between 08:00 to 23:00. There were no proposals to change this service as part of the redesign and none are planned.

I have very recently been in communication with the councillors to discuss the various issued raised and have offered to meet with them, however, they feel this is unlikely to be productive but the offer to meet still stands.


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