SCOTTISH health secretary Nicola Sturgeon has been urged to find “different solutions for remote areas” in the wake of two doctors and a practice manager quitting their posts in west Lochaber.
Dave Thompson, MSP for Skye, Lochaber and Badenoch, has written to Ms Sturgeon, to ask for a meeting between her officials and Highland GPs to discuss rural health care.
It follows the shock resignation announcement by the partners at the Pines Medical Centre at Acharacle, Dr Rob Colebrook and Dr Simon Topham, and practice manager Julie Colebrook.
The trio blame pressure and strain of a huge workload and lack of support from the NHS Highland for their decision to leave with effect from August 31.
The resignations are the latest development in the long-running controversy over primary health care in remote communities which has also affected the Small Isles, Glenelg and Wester Ross.
Earlier this month, Mr Thompson hosted a debate and reception in the Scottish Parliament on the centenary of publication of the Dewar Report which paved the way for the provision of free, accessible and high quality health care in rural and remote communities in the Highlands and islands.
Attending the event was a group of Highland GPs. Through discussion with them, Mr Thompson suggested a meeting between the Scottish Government and doctors to “consider the needs and requirements of health care in rural and remote areas”.
In his letter, Mr Thompson wrote: “It was suggested that a meeting to discuss remote health care with the members of the Dewar Committee might be useful in terms of considering how we might deal with some of the current problems and difficulties highlighted by the recent cases in Eigg, Glenelg and Acharacle.”
He added: “I do think that there needs to be different solutions for the remote areas, even for the majority of the rural areas as circumstances in the remote areas are just so different.
“Perhaps a 2012 ‘Dewar Report’ is needed with suggestions for resolving the difficulties coming from the grassroots GPs and other medical practitioners in the areas affected.”
NHS Highland has arranged to hire locum doctors to provide weekend cover at Acharacle until the end of July to ensure the local GPs “get a break”.
Gill McVicar, NHS Highland director of operations for North and West Highland, said: “We believe that there is more work to be done to sustain remote and rural health and care services.”