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Labour MSP Tackles First Minister About Extreme Weather And Rural Health

14th December 2017

Highlands and Islands Labour MSP Rhoda Grant this afternoon tackled Nicola Sturgeon on the effects of extreme winter weather and access to health services in remote and rural areas.

During First Minister's Questions in Holyrood, Mrs Grant asked what contingencies the Scottish Government had put in place to deal with the effects of extreme winter weather on rural and remote areas.

"Already this winter, constituents have contacted me with concerns about how the weather is impacting on health services,"Mrs Grant told the First Minister.

"One gentleman reached Inverness and was waiting for his appointment at Raigmore Hospital when he was contacted by Stagecoach to say his bus home had been cancelled due to bad weather. It cost him £200 to get home by taxi that night,"

"Constituents in Caithness are all really concerned due to recent service changes forcing more of them to come to Inverness to access health services"

“Already this winter the county has been cut off due to landslides on the rail line and roads closed due to accidents and sadly this is a common occurrence.

“What is the First Minister doing to make sure my constituents do not face further trauma while accessing services this winter?"

Ms Sturgeon replied that she recognised the effects of extreme winter weather on rural and remote communities.

However, she added that the impact could not be taken away all together but that everyone had to pull together to mitigate those impacts as much as possible, through the national resilience committee and local resilience partnerships, as well in co-ordination with the emergency services, local authorities and power companies.

She also said that NHS Highland was working on measures to develop long term sustainable services across the Caithness area and also on a review of health services in Caithness.

The First Minister offered to look into any individual constituency cases if Mrs Grant could pass on the details.

After the debate Mrs Grant added: “While I welcome the First Minister's response, the continuing centralisation of health services is causing real pain for many constituents and more investment in services and resources is desperately needed across the region.”

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