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Health / Islands patients ‘cut adrift’ from parts of health service

Shetland MSP Beatrice Wishart and Orkney MSP Liam McArthur.

NORTHERN Isles MSPs Beatrice Wishart and Liam McArthur have written to Scottish health secretary Jeane Freeman urging her to reconsider the self-isolation advice given to patients who have to travel from Shetland or Orkney to mainland hospitals for operations.

At present, patients are required to shield for 14 days before surgery, which includes a prohibition on using public transport.

McArthur said the current shielding provisions, however, take no account of the fact that this often requires the use of ferries or planes for islanders.

“This means that isles patients are being prevented from getting the treatment they need and that is available to patients in other parts of Scotland,” he continued.

“That the guidance effectively excludes islanders from parts of the National Health Service this makes it seem as though their health care is an afterthought for the Scottish Government.

“I have urged the Health Secretary to reconsider their position and ensure that isles patients can safely receive the operations they have been waiting for over recent months.

Wishart added: “It is unacceptable for islanders to be cut adrift from parts of the health service.

“The Scottish Government need to quickly review their guidance, with a view to making sure that islanders have the same equity of access to health care as anyone on mainland Scotland.”

The Scottish Government has been approached for comment.

Scottish Parliament election, 6 May 2021