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Fresh assurances from NHS Highland that a new renal dialysis service on Skye will be ‘ready for patients in December’ have been welcomed by Kate Forbes MSP after two years of campaigning.
Five patients are currently travelling three days a week from their homes in Skye and Lochalsh to Raigmore Hospital in Inverness, which Ms Forbes previously described as ‘intolerable’.
The health board is making internal alterations to the day room at the MacKinnon Memorial Hospital in Broadford to house the new service.
Last year the health board’s previous chief executive Iain Stewart said he hoped the new service would ‘start by April 2020’ but recruitment and training issues and the Covid pandemic delayed this.
But earlier this week Paul Hawkins, outgoing chief executive of NHS Highland, wrote to the Skye and Lochalsh constituency MSP with an update as she continued to press the case for her constituents.
In his letter of September 28 to Ms Forbes, Mr Hawkins said: ‘Covid-19 pressures within the hospital along with difficulties in staff recruitment to the new renal jobs have caused delays in opening a renal dialysis unit in Skye and Lochalsh.
‘I can now confirm that recruitment has been successful and building work is due to start shortly. We anticipate being ready for patients in December 2020. I know this is somewhat later than originally planned but am sure this will be a welcome development for patients.’
Ms Forbes said: ‘My heart goes out to the patients who’ve had to travel to Inverness for dialysis for so long. It’s a long, uncomfortable journey and they have been waiting in hope that a service is provided on Skye.
‘I know the most recent setbacks – recruitment issues and Covid – left many disappointed.
‘I hope the progress made will give hope that these patients and their families will have an easier journey to get to dialysis.’
MSP Kate Forbes has welcomed fresh assurances from NHS Highland that a new renal dialysis service on Skye will be ‘ready for patients in December’.