A three-year wait for west Highland kidney dialysis patients was finally brought to an end yesterday with the opening of a new renal unit in Skye.
The service at Broadford’s MacKinnon Memorial Hospital means patients will no longer have to suffer what Kate Forbes MSP has called “intolerable” regular journeys from their homes in the Skye, Lochalsh and South-West Ross area to Raigmore Hospital in Inverness.
Jean MacIntosh, 72, of Inverinate, Kyle of Lochalsh, was one of the first patients to receive treatment at Broadford yesterday.
She has until now been making the 68-mile journey to Inverness by taxi three times a week.
The round trips of more than 170 miles to the Highland capital on each occasion involved a gruelling 10 hours a day of travel time and being on dialysis.
Mrs MacIntosh said of the new service: “It is absolutely great.
“Thank you to everybody who made it happen, to the people who campaigned for it, and to the renal unit in Inverness for getting Broadford up and running.
“It will make a big difference. I’m just sorry that some of the people who would have benefitted didn’t live long enough to see it happen.”
Kate Forbes welcomed the opening of NHS Highland’s new unit following three years of campaigning.
She said: “I am absolutely delighted that the new renal unit has opened in Broadford Hospital.
“This is a fantastic day for the many individuals who have had to travel to Raigmore several times a week for years.
“On their behalf, I have been pushing for this for years now and I am so relieved to see it officially open.
“I firmly believe that as many services as possible should be delivered in Skye itself and this is an example of positive change.
“This has been a very long time coming but it will make a huge difference for those that rely on dialysis.”
The opening of the unit had been delayed for a number of months due to what NHS Highland said were recruitment issues.
It was first to have opened on December 2019, before being put back to January 2020, and later April 2020.
Highlands and Islands MSP Rhoda Grant had campaigned for its opening, writing to NHS Highland and calling the journey to receive care “extremely long” and “exhausting” for patients.
Louise Bussell, NHS Highland’s chief officer for community services, said: “NHS Highland is delighted to confirm that the new Renal Service for Skye, Lochalsh and South West Ross has opened at Broadford Hospital.
“This is an exciting development which has involved many months of detailed planning and engagement with patients, staff and the local communities.
“The service ensures patients in the area can receive dialysis treatment closer to their homes. This will make a significant difference to our patients and their families.
“This new service is being coordinated through the renal dialysis link nurse at Raigmore Hospital who will be communicating with individual patients.”