The Lochaber, Skye and Wester Ross area is part of the North and West Operational Unit in NHS Highland. Lochaber is the natural geographical area in the West Highlands which is centred on the town of Fort William, which acts as the administrative and medical hub for a diverse group of remote and rural communities encompassing the communities of Fort William, Spean Bridge, Roy Bridge, Fort Augustus, Ballachulish, Glen Coe, Ardgour, Lochaline, Ardnamurchan peninsula, Mallaig and Arisaig, Knoydart and the islands of the Inner Hebrides.
The local cultural identity is enhanced by the mountains, islands and musical tradition of the area. It is recognised as the ‘Outdoor Capital of the UK’ with access to the complete range of outdoor sports. Tourism, fish farming, forestry, crofting, fishing and aluminium smelting are the economic drivers in addition to good quality public services from the NHS, Education and local authority.
The Belford Hospital, Fort William is a Rural General Hospital with Consultant lead services in medicine, surgery and anaesthetics. The clinicians work within managed clinical networks with other specialists throughout Scotland. There are ten general practices in the Lochaber area which gives the Lochaber Rural Fellowship post unique access to the complete range of remote and rural general practices, from large health centre to rural dispensing practices and the remote practices of Lochaline, Ardnamurchan and Eigg.
There may be on occasion the need to support either the Torridon Medical Practice, which is a 1 WTE rural practice covered by two half time GPs covering a list size of 430 patients with no on call, and Applecross Medical Practice which is a single handed practice with a list size of 240 patients providing on call or potentially some of our salaried practices on Skye such as Carbost, Sleat and Broadford, and Glenelg Medical Practice which is just off the Island, who have the additional input and support from The Mackinnon Memorial Hospital based at Broadford.
The North and West Operational Unit are currently looking to build a Rural Support Team of Doctors and Emergency Nurse Practitioners, who can support some of these fragile rural communities by providing the most appropriate form of healthcare. It is anticipated that the Rural Fellow will form part of that Rural Support Team, hence flexibility is imperative.
Photo by Bernard Blanc, used under Creative Commons licence