THE NHS has provided an emergency nurse for a remote community – but she is based 50 miles away and must catch a ferry to reach patients.
Residents on the Ardnamurchan peninsula, 40 miles west of Fort William, have been told that if the ferry is cancelled due to rough waters, the nurse will have to take a three-hour road trip.
At present, 999 cover is provided by two nurses in the community. The closest ambulance is an hour’s emergency dash away in Strontian.
But the system is being scrapped because one of the nurses retires in a fortnight.
The replacement emergency nurse found by NHS Highland lives 50 miles away in Ballachuilish.
To get to a 999 call in the peninsula, the nurse will have to catch the Corran ferry across windswept Loch Linnhe. If the ferry is not operating, the nurse will have to drive most of the way to Mallaig to reach the community.
Campaigners have hit out at the plans saying it will risk lives.
Resident Jon Haylett said: “The proposal we were given is extremely vague.
“At its best it might work but its not exactly something I would be willing to risk my life on, which is essentially what people are being asked to do in two weeks.”
He added: “The community is now extremely worried. Time is running out and we are very sceptical that what is proposed will work to be honest. This situation could quite easily kill off our communities.”
Today a spokeswoman for NHS Highland said the nurse had raised the possibility of moving closer to the community.
And health officials have now raised a new proposal with the community.
In a joint statement NHS Highland and the Scottish Ambulance Service said an experienced ambulance technician has been identified who is prepared to move to the Ardnamurchan community of Kilchoan.
“He will have the use of a car fitted with life-saving equipment. He will work in a rota with other emergency responders who have a healthcare background.
“It is anticipated that this will include community nurses residing in Ardnamurchan.”