29 Jan 2013 10:01 AM
A pilot scheme has being launched to test new ways of delivering healthcare in remote areas of Scotland.
Health Secretary Alex Neil announced the scheme during a visit to Ardnamurchan in the Western Highlands yesterday.
NHS Highland will lead on the project to develop models of healthcare for testing in rural areas, in collaboration with local communities.
The plans will then be evaluated to test their effectiveness, with recommendations being used to develop similar healthcare models across Scotland.
Speaking as he visited Kilchoan, West Ardnamurchan, Mr Neil said:
“I am committed to ensuring that all communities in Scotland receive safe and sustainable health care services.
“This pilot scheme for remote healthcare, which is being led by NHS Highland, will play a vital role in helping to meet the needs of rural communities.
“I look forward to receiving details of NHS Highland’s proposals, and seeing the resulting recommendations.
“I would expect this to have relevance not only for remote areas, but that it would be suitable for testing in urban as well as remote areas in Scotland.
“Today I met with a range of healthcare staff and patients from the Ardnamurchan area and I found it invaluable to hear first hand about the particular challenges for this community.
“In Ardnamurchan, NHS Highland and the Scottish Ambulance Service are working closely to provide safe emergency and urgent healthcare for the local community, and a number of improvements have been made as a result.
“In particular, I was delighted to see the Emergency Responder Service up and running, and providing an invaluable service for people living in this area.
Gill McVicar, Director of Operations for North and West area of NHS Highland said:
“We were delighted to welcome the Cabinet Secretary to West Lochaber and to discuss some of the excellent work that is going on. He met local nurses and doctors who are working with local people to developing and improve services in the face of some challenges around geography and recruitment and retention.
“Staff shared with him examples of what they do but also some of the reasons why models of service need to change going into the future. NHS Highland is looking forward to working with the Scottish Government, local communities and partners, to explore, test and evaluate different models for the future.
“We don’t anticipate a one- size fits all solution but do believe key principles will emerge which can apply across all areas.”
The Health Secretary visited Ardnamurchan to meet with NHS staff and members of the local community.
As part of his visit, Mr Neil met with members of the local Emergency Responder Scheme, which was set up in March 2012 by the Scottish Ambulance Service.
Milne Weir, General Manager, North Division, Scottish Ambulance Service, said:
“The Emergency Responder Scheme is working well and has received very positive support from the community and stakeholders. It is our intention that the model should continue and two additional retired healthcare professionals are likely to join the existing team in the near future.”
The scheme involves training local people with a healthcare background to respond first to appropriate urgent or emergency calls until an air or road ambulance arrives.