Northern Isles MSPs warn of threat to survival of Island NHS Boards

Scottish Government plans could threaten local NHS services in the Northern Isles, according to MSPs Liam McArthur and Tavish Scott.

The Scottish Government’s Programme for Government, launched recently, states “We will also begin work to examine the number, structure and regulation of health boards, as well as their relationship with local authorities…”

Writing to the Cabinet Secretary for Health, the two Liberal Democrat MSPs want assurances that both NHS Orkney and NHS Shetland will not be “mothballed by further top-down SNP centralisation” in the government’s upcoming review.

In a joint statement, Mr McArthur and Mr Scott said:

“Centralisation of public services has been relentless over recent years, and at the expense of local services where NHS boards in both Orkney and Shetland already face additional costs in providing care to remote island communities.

“Ministers don’t know best and a one-size-fits-all approach rarely works for island communities. Health care in Orkney and Shetland more often than not requires different solutions to the central belt. Patient travel to Aberdeen for a range of medical needs is just one example of the difference.

“If Ministers believe that the answers to these challenges is squeezing budgets and ever-greater central control then they will have a fight persuading the communities we represent.

“People in Orkney and Shetland want assurances that their local health boards will not only be protected in a government review, but properly resourced to provide the best possible health care.”


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