Na h-Eileanan an Iar SNP MP Angus MacNeil is calling for joint working to radically improve patient travel arrangements between the islands.

Mr MacNeil has been contacted by Barra’s main care provider, Cobhair Bharraigh, who have informed him of a patient’s 41 hour return journey to an appointment in Stornoway which took 10 minutes, versus the 28 hours it might take to travel to and from Glasgow.

Mr MacNeil is calling on NHS Western Isles, Comhairle nan Eilean Siar and the Scottish Government to improve the travel arrangements for patients between Barra, Uist and Stornoway, to allow patients to get to hospital appointments in a timely and decent manner.

Mr MacNeil: “Over the last number of years we’ve seen a degradation in the transport system in the Hebrides meaning it is now easier to go to Edinburgh or London or even Brussels faster than it is to go from one end of the Hebrides to the other.

“At the moment, people have unacceptably long journeys, of ferries, overnight stays and then a flight to get to Stornoway, then all day to wait to get a flight back with the hope it is not delayed so there is another overnight stay before getting home.

“For now, the fastest way to get to Stornoway from Barra is via Glasgow. Unfortunately, the difficulty there is that Loganair have been selling PSO seats to day-trippers which fills up the planes. Therefore, action has to be taken, either flying via Glasgow to get to Stornoway or instead using Glasgow hospitals to avoid the difficult journeys patients have had as highlighted by Barra’s Care organisation in a letter to members of parliament, the Comhairle and NHS Western Isles.”