Isles FM News in association with Hebrides News - Thursday 16th July 2020


NHS Western Isles is taking steps increase the availability of its services. Since being placed on an emergency footing due to COVID-19 and has stated it fully understands the difficulties local communities have experienced -- and the impact of reductions in more routine health services, treatments, and tests.

Since the beginning of June, NHS Western Isles has been slowly and safely reintroducing some services -- and it is continuing to take steps to re-introduce certain services on a weekly basis.

NHS Western Isles Chief Executive, Gordon Jamieson, said:

“We would like to sincerely thank our local communities for their patience. Our priority is your safety and that of our staff, so we must ensure that services are only restarted when it is safe to do so.

“We are now recovering and renewing some services on a very gradual basis. But it is likely that, as services resume, they may not look or feel the same as they did previously.”

Endoscopy services are now provided three days a week in Stornoway, and a majority of Outpatient clinics have re-commenced . There are no immediate plans to re-introduce inpatient surgery unless there is an emergency. But cataract day surgery should resume this week. Finally, this month will see the resumption of some Musculoskeletal (MSK) clinics, with a focus on virtual consultations.



Because capacity is still limited across the Scotland’s inland-sea transport networks -- ferry travellers have been urged by the Scottish Minister for the Islands to plan ahead.

Many restrictions on hotels, attractions, and other businesses in the tourism sector were lifted yesterday -- but the country’s ferry networks cannot carry a full load due to physical-distancing measures.

At a visit to Ardrossan to thank ferry operator Caledonian MacBrayne, MSP Paul Wheelhouse -- Scottish Minister for Energy, Connectivity and the Islands -- said: “Passengers can help ferry operators by booking ahead and spreading their journeys across the full daily timetable to avoiding peak sailings. As always, there will be busy periods and people may need to be flexible. Please be understanding with ferry staff, who will do their best to help you.”

Cal Mac’s operations’ director, Robert Morrison, said: “As we move gradually out of lockdown -- and our capacity increases -- there will be new challenges around insuring tourists can get to where they are going -- while continuing to keep islands safe. Our staff have a difficult job to do at this time and I would urge the travelling public to be patient and understanding when interacting with them.”


Researchers from the University of the Highlands and Islands -- and from Newcastle University -- are interested to find out how children aged between 5-10 years have experienced their life in the COVID-19 outbreak.

During the pandemic lots of things changed very quickly for everyone.

Dr Tushar Banerjee, NHS Western Isles Consultant Paediatrician, noticed that children were drawing pictures about the lockdown, and wanted to find out more. He said, “Younger children have been expressing what lockdown has been like for them in their drawings. This has been a unique time for everyone, and we want to learn from children about how they have been coping”.

Children's pictures about their lockdown experiences can be submitted in a short online survey at



Comhairle nan Eilean Siar has paid tribute to the invaluable role local businesses have played throughout the COVID19 crisis.

Councillor Donald Crichton, Chairman of the Sustainable Development Committee, said: “I think it is a good time to reflect on and appreciate the role our many local businesses have played in keeping key services and products available. And whilst my focus is on our local businesses, I am ever mindful of the contribution the nationals like the Coop and Tesco .

He continued: “ Islands wide hauliers – such as D R Macleod -- have continued to deliver goods, retained their staff, adapted to very challenging ferry timetables. Woody’s kept the parcels flowing and our Postmen and women never faltered. Local fillings stations -- with their accompanying grocery shops -- have continued to serve us all well.”

Other local businesses he congratulated include K J Macdonald and Back pharmacies. Cllr. Crighton said there were others he could mention, but finally front-line staff in the health and care sector deserve extra thanks.



The HebCelt virtual online festival began yesterday.

Today, Thursday, at 8pm celebrated singer and musician Julie Fowlis will be in session -- joined by Kathleen Macinnes, Josie Duncan, Alyth McCormack, Jane Hepburn Macmillan, Innes White, and others.

Tomorrow at 8pm a lineup of Colin Macleod, Rory Macdonald and the Hebridean Allstars bring you a programme titled ‘Only the Brave’ created by Rory Macdonald of Runrig.

And Saturday -- at the later hour of 10pm -- it’s “HebCelt; the movie!” TV Producer Daibhidh Martin has compiled many Heb Celt memories together.

The festival will be ‘broadcast’ on the Heb Celt Facebook page and YouTube channels, carried through to the Heb Celt website. It will also be pinging-up on Instagram.

This should make it as accessible as possible to an audience far and wide.