NHS Highland have announced that out-of-hours service from Skye and Lochalsh will be provided from Broadford only this week.

This will mean the Urgent Care Centre in Portree will close at 6pm this evening.

NHS Highland stated that there is a vacancy in the Rural Support Team which provides out-of-hours care to the north of the island and a number of staff absences - which has resulted in a shortage of staff to safely cover all of the out-of-hours shifts in Portree.  

All efforts to find staff from elsewhere, including agencies, have been unsuccessful.

Therefore, all urgent out-of-hours care which would normally be seen in Portree will be handled at the Mackinnon Memorial Hospital tonight and tomorrow evening (12th and 13th September).

NHS Highland’s district manager for Skye, Lochalsh and West Ross, Kate Earnshaw, said: “We have an extreme staffing situation between the two hospital sites on Skye and we are unable to safely staff the out-of-hours service in Portree.

“This has resulted in a temporary suspension of that service for this evening and tomorrow night. All urgent care will be managed by the out-of-hours service at the Dr Mackinnon Memorial Hospital in Broadford.

“NHS Highland would like to apologise for any inconvenience this may cause and we would reassure people in Portree by stressing that all care will be appropriately responded to and that we are continuing to explore other staffing options while recruitment is in process.” 

Mrs Earnshaw continued: “The staffing shortage on Skye has impacted on other services, including catering and nursing. This week we have had to move staff to cover Dr Mackinnon’s catering as we have a greater number of patients located there.

“Due to the few numbers of patients we have in Portree we have asked the nursing staff to support us as we tackle this situation.”

Kate Forbes MSP has urged NHS Highland to reverse its decision to close the out-of-hours service from Portree on a temporary basis. 

Kate Forbes also called on the beleaguered health board to resolve staffing issues instead of taking “another step in the wrong direction."  She said: “This is utterly unacceptable in every sense. 

“I received assurances that NHS Highlands were actively recruiting for staff but rather than be greeted with good news in September about reopening Portree Hospital to admissions, I am deeply frustrated to learn that urgent out-of-hours care has been moved. 

“I know that many constituents in Skye will join me in appealing to NHS Highland to sort this situation out because we do not want to see another step in the wrong direction.”