A Scottish Parliament investigation into the redesign of healthcare services by NHS Highland in Skye, Lochalsh and Wester Ross will continue after evidence from Kate Forbes MSP.

Earlier yesterday (22 November) the cross-party Public Petitions Committee agreed to write to the Cabinet Secretary on Healthcare to ask questions on the timescale and the terms of reference of the independent, external view that was announced by NHS Highland last month.

On 27 October, NHS Highland confirmed that the Scottish Government had approved a request for an external view to look at the arrangements for North Skye in terms of urgent care, minor injury and access to A&E services after a round of meetings with local elected members and community council representatives. NHS Highland stated at the time that this review was not about the wider service redesign for Skye, Lochalsh and South West Ross.

Although not a member of the committee, Skye MSP Kate Forbes attended the meeting to raise the concerns of many of her constituents, which the cross-party group of MSPs took on board when reaching their decision.

The petition was first considered in December 2015, and over seven Holyrood hearings the committee has written to both NHS Highland and the Scottish Government on multiple occasions.

Kate Forbes MSP said: “The Public Petitions Committee meeting this morning provided another opportunity to highlight concerns voiced by residents in north and west Skye about the future of Portree Hospital.

“Rather than close the petition, which was one of the options on the Committee papers, the committee decided to ask the Cabinet Secretary for clarity on the timescales and terms of reference of the external view announced by NHS Highland last month on urgent care, minor injury and access to A&E services.

She added: “I welcomed the external, independent review last month as it will provide an opportunity to identify what is really available in Portree and start to bridge the gap between assurances and reality. However, I know that people want to see it actually start as soon as possible, so hopefully the Petitions Committee’s questions about the timescale and the terms of reference will increase scrutiny of that.”