A north politician is pressing for the new hospital planned for Skye and Lochalsh to be built and operational as soon as possible.
The call for urgent action by Skye, Lochaber and Badenoch MSP Dave Thompson follows NHS Highland’s announcement that it was stopping endoscopy internal examinations at Broadford Hospital on Skye this month due to fears over decontamination.
And the health board said the procedure would not restart until a new hospital was built on the island – but a site has yet to be chosen and no timescale has been given for the project.
The loss of the service at Broadford Hospital means hundreds of patients face road journeys of more than 160 miles to Raigmore Hospital in Inverness or Belford Hospital in Fort William for an endoscopy examination.
Mr Thompson pointed out that the people of Skye deserved to have the same hospital provision as those living in Inverness and the surrounding area and said the health board should make building a new hospital on the island a top priority.
He said: “I would urge NHS Highland to agree the new hospital as quickly as possible, so that it can be approved by Ministers, built and enhanced services delivered to Skye as quickly as possible.”
The SNP MSP also raised the issue with Cabinet Secretary for Health and Wellbeing Alex Neil MSP during the Scottish Parliament’s question time.
Mr Thompson said: “The Cabinet Secretary confirmed to me he would be reviewing the decision to end endoscopy and that NHS Highland will be discussing proposals for the new hospital at their next meeting in December.
“He also confirmed that he is to meet with the chairman and chief executive of NHS Highland later this month and that he will raise the ending of endoscopy services with them then.”
In a letter to Mr Thompson, NHS Highland chairman Garry Coutts said the machine used to carry out endoscopy examinations at Broadford had broken down 14 times so far this year.
He said the service had been “limping along” using parts cannibalised from decommissioned machines elsewhere.
Mr Coutts also said the area currently used for this purpose could not be modernised to rectify the situation and building an extension would cost around £500,000. However, this would still not ensure the building was fit for purpose and could result in staffing difficulties.
Mr Coutts wrote: “It is our intention to reintroduce the service when new facilities are developed.”