Campaigners fighting to save Portree Hospital are urging north Skye residents to attend an NHS Highland drop-in session next week to demonstrate the strength of local feeling.
The event on the future of local health and social care services in the area is being held at Portree Community Centre on Friday March 18 between 1pm and 6pm.
And the health board is billing it as “an opportunity to meet with the NHS Highland management team, frontline clinicians and partner agencies”.
NHS Highland’s decision to build a new hospital at Broadford, known as the “hub”, with a smaller facility in Portree, referred to as the “spoke”, sparked anger from people living in north Skye.
Neil Ferguson, who is a member of the SOS (Save our Services) NHS Skye group set up to represent the community, said their main concerns were losing inpatient beds and the accident and emergency service at Portree.
He said: “They make up these things like hub and spoke, which they use as smoke and mirrors.
“NHS Highland is closing Portree Hospital by stealth so that Portree will be left with a glorified clinic.
“And the so-called consultation was not a consultation at all. They just presented us with a fait accompli.”
In December, SOS NHS delivered a petition, signed by around 5,000 people, to Holyrood to urge MSPs to call for an independent investigation of the matter.
Alan MacRae, who was a founding member of the group, said the public petitions committee was very supportive and kept the petition open as a legacy petition for the next parliament.
He said: “Local people are furious that they have been ignored.
“We presume NHS Highland is holding this event to reassure us, but we are not feeling very reassured as they haven’t listened to us once.
“It’s always a case of ‘we know best’.”
He pointed out that 65 per cent of the population of Skye lived in the north of the island and said the main hospital should be in that area, rather than 25 miles away in Broadford.
An NHS Highland spokesman said: “The idea of the event is to give members of the public ample opportunity to talk and discuss any concerns they have over the plans with NHS Highland staff, partner agencies and local MPs and MSPs. Information about the plans will also be made available for people to take away.
“It forms part of the ongoing programme of meetings and events to discuss the redesign of health and social care across Skye, Lochalsh and South West Ross.”