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Barra people are more cut off from services in Stornoway than they are from London.

Na h-Eileanan an Iar MP Angus MacNeil has been contacted by Cobhair Bharraigh, who have informed him of a patient’s 41-hour return journey to an appointment in Stornoway which took 10 minutes, versus the 28 hours it might take to travel to and from Glasgow.

Cobhair Bharraigh works to provide respite for carers by providing four days day-care to People Living with Dementia, the elderly, people with physical, mental or sensory impairment – and to enable people, if they wish, to remain in their own homes as long as possible. 

Now Mr MacNeil is calling for joint working to radically improve patient travel arrangements between the islands. There used to regular Monday-Friday flights linking Barra and Benbecula airports - but these were supported by Comhairle nan Eilean Siar which withdrew that support 12 years to save £215,000 a year. 

Mr MacNeil is calling on NHS Western Isles, Comhairle nan Eilean Siar and the Scottish Government to improve the travel arrangements for patients between Barra, Uist and Stornoway, to allow patients to get to hospital appointments in a timely and decent manner.

Mr MacNeil: “It is now easier to go to Edinburgh or London or even Brussels faster than it is to go from one end of the Hebrides to the other.

“At the moment, people have unacceptably long journeys, of ferries, overnight stays and then a flight to get to Stornoway, then all day to wait to get a flight back with the hope it is not delayed so there is another overnight stay before getting home.

“For now, the fastest way to get to Stornoway from Barra is via Glasgow. Unfortunately, the difficulty there is that Loganair have been selling PSO seats to day-trippers which fills up the planes.

"Therefore, action has to be taken, either flying via Glasgow to get to Stornoway or instead using Glasgow hospitals to avoid the difficult journeys patients have had as highlighted by Barra’s Care organisation in a letter to members of parliament, the Comhairle and NHS Western Isles.”