McArthur reiterates accessibility issues with inter-isles air service

27 Jun 2024
Liam McArthur speaking in parliament

Orkney’s MSP Liam McArthur has once again highlighted how residents with mobility issues living in some of the smaller isles are missing out on medical appointments and treatment due to being unable to access the inter-isles air services.

Speaking during General Questions in the Scottish Parliament earlier today, Mr McArthur detailed how constituents in islands such as North Ronaldsay, which don’t have a roll-on, roll-off ferry, are reliant on an Islander aircraft that is inaccessible for those with restricted mobility, a problem that is only likely to get worse in light of current demographic trends.

In response, Health Secretary, Neil Gray, reaffirmed a commitment to meet with Mr McArthur, NHS Orkney, and other local stakeholders in Orkney during summer recess to discuss ways in which this this issue might be addressed.

Speaking after the exchange, Orkney’s MSP said:

“The Islander has been the workhorse of our lifeline inter-isles air service for many years. It is an aircraft, however, that isn’t easy to get in and out of, even if you don’t have a mobility issue.

“For an increasing number of constituents with mobility issues in some of the smaller isles, such as North Ronaldsay, this is posing serious problems and resulting in some opting to miss medical appointments and treatment.

“The longer term consequences of this for the individuals themselves are extremely worrying, but the impact on their families, nurses and GPs as well as the wider island community should not be under-estimated. 

“I have held initial discussions with NHS Orkney, OIC, Loganair and the North Ronaldsay community to explore options for addressing this problem. I am grateful, however, that the Health Secretary has agreed to get involved and lend his support to efforts to find a solution. As an Orcadian himself, Neil Gray is well aware of the seriousness of this issue and the importance of ensuring transport links that are there to provide a lifeline for our island communities meet the needs of all island residents.

“I look forward to the meeting with Mr Gray and other stakeholders in the coming weeks and hope this can make the progress that residents in North Ronaldsay and some of the other smaller isles so desperately need.”

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