Highlands & Islands

Protest held over remote GP cover in Glenelg and Arnisdale

Protect at meeting
Residents from Glenelg and Arnisdale outside the meeting in Dingwall

A protest has been held outside a health board meeting which considered options for future medical cover for a remote part of the Highlands.

A doctor who covered Glenelg and Arnisdale has left for a secondment to the Scottish government and residents fear he will not be replaced.

The NHS Highland meeting deferred making a decision on the options.

The Scottish government said any plans should be based on the need to "maintain and improve" the service.

Locum GPs have been covering the vacant post since Dr Simon Hurding left in October.

NHS Mid Highland Community Health Partnership met on Wednesday to consider options for future cover.

People from the communities on the west Highland mainland coast opposite Skye staged a demonstration outside the meeting in Dingwall.

The campaigners said they were concerned medical services could eventually be covered by professionals based at other sites.

They said it would take a doctor in Broadford, on Skye, or a paramedic stationed in Kyle of Lochalsh, on the mainland, more than an hour to reach Arnisdale.

Campaigners have written to Health Secretary Nicola Sturgeon asking her to step in to protect their GP service, claiming that she had taken such action previously.

A campaign spokesperson said: "The gravity of the situation here is no less serious than it was to warrant the intervention Nicola Sturgeon gave to the Torridon and Applecross communities a few years ago.

"We have evidence that the data gathered and reports prepared by Mid Highland CHP are far from robust and this is completely unacceptable."

'Public engagement'

The Scottish government said it was aware NHS Highland was developing options for future medical service provision for the communities.

A spokeswoman added: "Any proposals should be based on the need to maintain and improve the quality of the service provided to local people and on appropriate public engagement.

"NHS boards are responsible for planning and delivering local services."

Before the meeting, Alison Phimister, NHS Highland Ross Cromarty and West Ness Locality general manager, said various proposals were being considered by the community health partnership.

"Community representatives are involved in all discussions and in the working groups that have been set up to look at primary care in hours and out-of-hours services and at the emergency and immediate care response for the area," she said.

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