View Full Version : Call for Highland health focus support

11-Sep-12, 09:16
Forum to solicit Cabinet minister's backing

THE new Cabinet Secretary for Health and Well-being, Alex Neil, is to be invited to endorse important and practical research which will focus on the delivery of health and care services in Scotland’s remote and rural areas.
A meeting held on Friday, chaired by Dave Thompson, MSP, heard that it was equally as important to consider lessons from history as well as the unique geography of Highland when thinking about services for the future, and now a proposal will be sent to Mr Neil about exploring the implications of this, for the delivery of care in remote and rural areas.
The ‘Dewar’ group presented its recent work – undertaken to celebrate the centenary of the Dewar Report, which resulted in the establishment of the Highlands and Islands Medical Service, a forerunner to the NHS – at the meeting, which was also attended by representatives of NHS Highland and the Scottish Government Health and Social Care Directorates.
Mr Thompson, MSP for Skye, Lochaber and Badenoch, said: “It was fascinating to hear how the members of the Dewar committee toured the Highlands and Islands to find out how people got health care and to recommend what was needed for the future. Although many of the issues and infrastructure have changed, the geography is the same, and I was interested in how we can learn from the past and look to the future.”
He added: “I am acutely aware of some very real here-and-now challenges in the provision of safe and sustainable health and care services in rural areas and wanted to get some people together to discuss how we can all work with communities to look at what we need to do. I was struck by the fact that everyone agrees on the issues facing us and that there is a willingness to think differently. We agreed to put a proposal to the Cabinet Secretary, Alex Neil, that there should be a specific piece of work focusing on remote and rural health and care services, to build on the legacy of Dewar.”
Garry Coutts, Chair of NHS Highland Board, who was present at the meeting, said: “It was a very interesting and useful meeting. We have many vacancies in remote and rural areas and we know that the way we structure practices needs to change in order to make these jobs more attractive and to meet the demands of modern care. I am delighted that there is agreement from clinicians, politicians and managers to work with local people to explore what needs to happen in the future.”
Dr James Douglas, a member of the Dewar Group, agreed and commented: “We see this as a real opportunity and are delighted to have been part of the discussion. In celebrating the centenary of the original Dewar Report, we found that lessons from then have importance for us today. It is important that it is a joint approach as there are some aspects, such as the GP contract, that are outwith local control and we need wider involvement and understanding of all the issues. Highland people should be proud of the history. We were ahead of the game in 1912 and we think that we can be at the forefront of developing new models in 2012.”