24-hour care and paramedic plans for Portree Hospital on schedule

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The provision of 24 hour urgent care at Portree Hospital is on schedule to be fully operational by May of this year, the Lewis Ritchie Implementation Steering Group heard at its meeting in Portree last Tuesday (January 8).

The meeting also heard the Scottish Ambulance Service (SAS) will recruit a team of paramedics to be stationed at Portree Hospital over the next year.

NHS Highland and NHS 24 are working together to pilot advance nurse practitioners who will undertake a dual role for both organisations in Portree and Broadford. This work has not been done before and the purpose is to underpin a resilient out-of-hours service.

Senior managers from NHS 24 will visit Skye and Glenelg in late February with NHS Highland to meet with community representatives to support the development of these proposals.

David Park, chief officer of NHS Highland’s North Highland Health and Social Care partnership, said that an options appraisal would be undertaken in a bid to find a permanent solution for out-of-hours urgent care on Raasay.

Graham MacLeod, head of ambulance services Highland, told the meeting that an action plan for recruiting and training first responders on Skye is  under way. He explained that SAS are 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. Mr MacLeod said that it is hoped recruitment can begin at the end of March.

The next meeting of the Ritchie Implementation Steering Group is scheduled for February 12 and will focus on the provision of community beds at Portree Hospital.