The constituency MSP for Lochaber has praised hard-working staff at the Belford Hospital following a visit to see doctors, nurses and patients last week.
During a meeting with senior hospital staff, Kate Forbes MSP heard that recruitment continued to be a challenge and that applicants from overseas, who were showing interest in coming to Lochaber, were being deterred by rigid UK immigration law requirements.
Ms Forbes also said was particularly pleased at the level of community engagement regarding plans for the new Belford hospital.
Kate Forbes MSP said: “There is a great opportunity with the new Belford to build a hospital for the future.
“The Lochaber population has grown, and looks set to grow even further. As such, I am pleased to see ongoing community engagement.
“I visited the Belford because I was keen to meet the healthcare professionals who tirelessly care for patients and save lives.
“They are exceptional people who dedicate their careers to serving other people, often with very little gratitude. The National Health Service only exists because of their service. They have my greatest respect and admiration for all that they do in Lochaber.”
Dr Katharine Jones, associate medical director for NHS Highland’s north and west division, added: “It was a pleasure to meet Kate at the Belford and have the opportunity to describe the challenges we face with recruitment and retention in our rural general hospitals.
“It was refreshing to hear Kate's proposals for collaborative working between cross-party politicians and NHS Highland for the benefit of patient care.
“This is particularly welcome at a time when we are seeking to fill four consultant vacancies at the Belford Hospital.
“I look forward to working together in future and would like to thank Kate for her support.”