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      Uist and Benbecula News

The introduction of Hebridean Air Service planes on the Stornoway-Benbecula service is expected to significantly impact the number of outpatient clinics at Uist and Barra Hospital, the NHS Western Isles board meeting will hear on Wednesday (May 29).

A report on the recently awarded inter-island Public Service Obligation contract states that flight timetable changes could reduce Visiting Services Clinics from Raigmore and the loss of Outpatient clinics from Raigmore clinicians and NHS Western Isles clinicians at Uist and Barra Hospital.

The board will hear that a lack of direct or connecting flights and the axed Thursday flight, previously operated by Loganair, will likely reduce health care services.

In her report, Debbie Bozkurt, the Director of Finance and Procurement, says: “Further, NHS Western Isles is concerned regarding the new provision and specifically is concerned with the: 
a) loss of plane capacity from that previously provided;  
b) Flight schedule (timings have been altered from that previously provided); and 
c) Accessibility of the aircraft (there is concern some passengers may find accessibility challenging or a barrier to travel, particularly passengers who require wheelchair accessibility, have reduced mobility, are in advanced stages of pregnancy, are post-operative, have neurological conditions, or have certain mental health conditions.”

However, the director concedes that the health board has no remit over public transport provision; this is the responsibility of local authorities and Transport Scotland.  

But she notes: “NHS Western Isles was not involved in the pre-tender specification development, issuing the tender invitation, assessing and or awarding the above noted Benbecula to Stornoway Contract.”

And adds: “As detailed, the change in the PSO and the change in flight schedules could affect the ability of NHS Western Isles to provide safe and effective services as close to home as possible for the residents of the Western Isles and to pursue and deliver the best possible outcomes and experience.”

The board are due to meet on Wednesday at 10 am. The meeting is open to the public via Teams, the online video app.

To obtain the link, email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Also on the agenda are finance and child poverty.