Highlands & Islands

Nurses cooking meals due to shortages at Skye hospitals

Dr MacKinnon Memorial Hospital Image copyright Richard Dorrell/Geograph
Image caption Staffing shortages are affecting hospitals at Broadford (pictured) and Portree

Nurses are cooking patients' meals because of staffing shortages at Skye's two hospitals.

Catering staff at Portree Hospital have been temporarily moved to provide cover at the isle's Dr MacKinnon Memorial Hospital in Broadford.

NHS Highland said an "extreme staffing shortage" was affecting both hospitals on the island.

The health board said nursing staff at Portree Hospital had agreed to reheat and serve food to patients.

It has also emerged that two tourists took their sick child to Portree Hospital on Wednesday evening but were unable to get treatment because out-of-hours care at the site was temporarily suspended due to staff shortages.

The family had to travel 25.6 miles (41.2km) away in Broadford.

NHS Highland has apologised for the inconvenience the suspension has caused, adding that the Portree service was expected to return to normal on Thursday.

'Utterly unacceptable'

The health board said staffing both of Skye's hospital had been challenging.

A spokesman for NHS Highland said: "We have an extreme staffing shortage currently between the two hospital sites, catering being one of these.

"As a result of this we have had to temporarily move staff to cover MacKinnon catering, as we have more patients there, and due to the few patients we have in Portree the nursing staff have been asked to support this situation.

"The staff have agreed to do the cooking as there are so few patients and it is not full meal preparation, simply reheating and serving."

Image copyright Science Photo Library
Image caption Nursing staff have agreed to reheat and serve meals

NHS Highland had to suspend out-of-hours emergency medical services at Portree Hospital this week due to staff shortages, a move criticised by local politicians.

The health board said staff absences and a vacancy in the rural support team, which provides out-of-hours care to the north of Skye, meant the hospital's urgent care centre in Portree had to be closed at 18:00 on Tuesday.

Last month, NHS Highland also suspended new admissions at Portree Hospital because of staff shortages.

Earlier this week, Skye, Lochaber and Badenoch SNP MSP Kate Forbes described the out-of-hours situation as "utterly unacceptable".

Skye councillor Ronald MacDonald has also criticised NHS Highland for the lack of cover in Portree.

Mr MacDonald and Highland Council leader's Margaret Davidson are to meet Health Secretary Shona Robison next week and raise their concerns about hospital services on Skye.

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