An external review into healthcare provision in Skye, Lochaber and West Ross is to be carried out by a small team led by Sir Lewis Ritchie, who chaired a national review of NHS out-of-hours services in 2015.
Local MSP Kate Forbes said she called for the external, independent review of out-of-hours care at Portree Hospital last autumn because local confidence was wearing thin.
She added: “I welcome the announcement of the terms of reference and review team because after a series of temporary suspensions of out-of-hours over the Christmas period, it is even more important that somebody of Professor Sir Lewis Ritchie’s calibre leads the review team.
“The work of the review team has got to link in with the ambulance service and NHS 24 too as its critical that there is joined-up thinking.
“I think the current lack of confidence has got to be taken very seriously by all and this in-depth review will hopefully identify the source of the problem and ensure that it is resolved once and for all.
“It should be non-negotiable that people in west and north Skye have access to reliable, out-of-hours care so that when they fall ill they can access care immediately.”
NHS Highland chairman David Alston said: “Sir Lewis Ritchie’s team will look at the current arrangements for urgent care provision in Skye, Lochalsh and South West Ross in general.
“I have also asked him to advise, in particular, if the urgent care service is designed and staffed in such a way as to meet the needs of the people of North Skye”.
A report on the findings, together with any recommendations, is expected to be produced by the end of April.
Mr Alston said NHS Highland would then consider the report and take any appropriate action including reporting through the Highland Health and Social Care Partnership.
Professor Sir Lewis Ritchie is the James Mackenzie Professor of General Practice at the University of Aberdeen.
He is a former director of public health with NHS Grampian and continues to serve as an honorary consultant in public health.