The number of hospital beds in Portree and the north of Skye are “still of concern”, in spite of plans for a 24-bed community hospital going on display for the first time yesterday.
The building planned for land between the Dr Mackinnon Memorial Hospital and Broadford Medical Centre will serve the whole of Skye and Lochalsh, with some extra community beds being based 40-miles away in Portree.
NHS Highland confirmed yesterday that, if plans progress as expected, construction on the hospital is due to get underway in 2019, with a completion date in late 2020.
The initial decision for the hospital being located to the south of the island sparked a major community campaign, to which the government stepped in and ordered the Sir Lewis Richie Commission.
Sir Lewis has focused the majority of his findings on the delivery of healthcare to Portree and north Skye – while plans for the hospital at Broadford progressed.
Healthcare campaigner, Councillor Ronald MacDonald said:” My main issue is the number of community beds that will be available.
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“At the moment we are away down at 34 at the new hospital.
“That would be 1.6 beds for every thousand people on the island, in other areas such as Lewis and Harris it is five beds per thousand.”
The bed numbers do not take into account the tourist population who can increase the numbers on the island threefold.
Mr MacDonald continued: “We still don’t think there are enough community beds.
“These beds are all in the south of the island at the moment – that does not suit people who live in Portree or in north Skye.
“We are awaiting an interim report on the situation and we will know from that how we will progress.”
Meanwhile, the latest plans for the first phase of construction for the hospital will see the demolition of a former nurse’s cottage, the removal of vegetation including some of the trees from the site, while a dry-stane dyke will be removed by hand in order that any reptiles living within it are unharmed.
The structure for the main two storey building will be a steel frame with composite concrete floor slabs. Steel will be erected by mobile crane.
Plans will be back on display today, at the Portree Chamber, Tigh na Sgire, Portree on between 1pm – 6:30pm.