Swinney says island NHS 'not good enough' after death of woman at festival

The First Minister was told another woman at the festival went into anaphylactic shock but couldn't access the hospital because it was closed.

The First Minister has admitted the NHS in Skye is “not good enough” after one woman died at a music festival and another was unable to get an ambulance after going into anaphylactic shock.

A woman was pronounced dead at the Skye Live festival on Saturday after becoming unwell.

Douglas Ross said another woman who was at the event went into anaphylactic shock while in a pub after the concert but couldn’t access a nearby hospital.

He said urgent action was needed to tackle issues with rural healthcare in Scotland.

The Scottish Tory leader said that Eilidh Beaton was just 200 yards from Portree Hospital when the coastguard offered to carry her there.

One woman died while attending the Skye Live festival.Skye Live

But she was told there would be “no point” because it was closed at the time.

“So I would just be left lying outside,” she has said.

Portree Hospital has not been operating a 24/7 emergency service for several years despite a report in 2018 recommending it do so.

During FMQs, Ross quoted Ms Beaton who said the Scottish Government “keeps making the same promises” to return the hospital to a 24/7 service but that the “same excuses” mean “no action” has been taken.

He said: “On Saturday, a woman tragically died at a music festival on Skye. At the same festival, 27-year-old Eilidh Beaton nearly lost her life when no ambulances were available.”

He added: “One life has been lost, another was very nearly lost. Does John Swinney accept this should never have been allowed to happen?”

Swinney paid condolences to the family of the woman who died and apologised to Ms Beaton for what he said was a “terrifying experience”.

He said it was of “deep concern” that Portree Hospital was not operating as a 24-hour service.

He said the Government had spoken with the Highland health board on Wednesday to insist that the service returns.

Quoting Ms Beaton, Ross told Swinney: “The report has been on the table for six years saying we need 24-hour provision. They keep making these promises, but delivering no action, making the same excuses.”

Swinney said for three out of the last six years a 24/7 service was available at the hospital but that it was not unsustainable due to workforce challenges.

Ross said: “The SNP Government should have acted long ago to prevent the tragic events we saw on Skye last weekend from even being possible.

“The SNP Government are accountable for the crisis across healthcare in rural Scotland.

“Where was the will to act before now? Why does it take the tragic events on Saturday for the government to finally step up?

“It’s not more empty words that are needed – it’s action.”

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