Opponents of a health board’s move to downgrade an island hospital are seeking judicial review of the decision.
Member of SOS NHS Skye have called on theHealth Secretary Shona Robison to order a review into NHS Highland’s decision to build a £15 million hospital in Broadford rather than Portree.
There was debate before the decision was made whether the new hospital should be in Portree, which currently has a 12-bed institution and is Skye’s largest settlement, or at the 20-bed facility in Broadford, 25 miles south but which is more accessible to the mainland areas which it will also serve.
The new hospital will have endoscopy and X-ray facilities and will be able to undertake minor operations.
In addition it will have inpatient beds and offer orthopaedic, chemotherapy and chest services.
Portree, however, would only have a primary care emergency centre as well as GP and nurse cover for small injuries and minor ailments.
Opponents of the plans complain there would be no inpatient beds and argue this effectively shuts Portree hospital down.
Sarah Marshall, who chairs the group, said: “The decision to reduce provision on the island to a single central hospital has been taken without NHS Highland having any idea how this will affect services across the whole area.”
She added that the health board had went ahead without attempting to find out what the local community wanted.
“The removal of beds and A&E from north Skye are just two obvious problems that NHS Highland has failed to address,” she said.
In addition she noted that a petition supporting a review has garnered 5,000 signatures, more than double the number of people who responded to the public consultation put out by NHS Highland on the proposals.
Ms Marshall said:“It’s equivalent to around 60 per cent of the electorate of the Eilean a Cheo (Skye) council ward.
“It’s like a petition from Inverness getting over 40,000 signatures, or 250,000 from Edinburgh.
“With this level of support you would think that our politicians would sit up and take notice.”
“We believe that the Health Secretary has been misled by NHS Highland, and that the judicial review will expose the incompetence and the mendacity of NHS managers.”
However, Gill McVicar, director of operations for NHS Highland’s north and west operational unit argued the public consultation was both fair and robust as determined by the Scottish Health Council.
Ms Robison also said she was satisfied NHS Highland had conducted its process in a “meaningful and exclusive way, providing local people with numerous and reasonable opportunities to express their views”.
Photo credit: “2007-07-06 GreatBriain Portree” by Gernot Keller www.gernot-keller.com – Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.5 via Commons – https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:2007-07-06_GreatBriain_Portree.jpg#/media/File:2007-07-06_GreatBriain_Portree.jpg