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Forbes reaffirms commitment that rural healthcare services ‘must be localised as far as possible’

By Louise Glen

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Kate Forbes
Kate Forbes

The SNP candidate for Skye, Lochaber and Badenoch has reaffirmed her commitment that healthcare services in rural areas must be localised as far as possible.

Kate Forbes said she had helped to secured the Ritchie Review which saved Portree Hospital from closure, and is now pushing NHS Highland to deliver a new hospital in Fort William as quickly as possible.

She said other notable achievements during the last five years, while she has been the constituency MSP, include a new state-of-the-art hospital in Aviemore, restoring 24/7 nursing cover to the Isle of Raasay and securing a new renal dialysis unit for Skye and Lochalsh – saving patients the previous “tortuous” journeys to Inverness and back from their West Highland homes.

The new hospitals in Aviemore and Broadford are due to be completed later this year.

Ms Forbes said: “During the pandemic, we’ve seen how critical it is to have good, local general healthcare and easy access to acute services.

“As I represent Highland communities outside Inverness, I’ve always argued that it is NHS Highland, and not NHS Raigmore. In the last five years, we’ve seen substantial progress in a number of areas – the new hospitals in Aviemore and Broadford and the nurses in Raasay are testament to that.

“Nationally, we’ve continued to ensure no prescription charges and expanded free personal and nursing care to everybody who needs it, regardless of age.

“However, there is still much work to be done, particularly in Fort William. Although the land has been purchased for a new hospital and the steering group has been meeting for a number of years, I’m as frustrated as other locals that we still don’t have a new Belford.

“I’ve demonstrated that I’m willing to get stuck into difficult issues and fight for the Highlands over the years."

She added: "I’m not saying that these issues are easy – that’s exactly why the Highlands needs somebody who will listen to real people, who will take up their fight and who won’t give up until it is resolved.”

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