NHS Highland’s Chief Executive, Pam Dudek, confirmed the unit had been closed since March 2020 during the first lockdown.
She told Mrs Grant that the unit was situated within the in-patient ward, sharing an entrance and staffing, with no waiting area and a small room which would not allow social distancing.
But she added: “This has been reviewed and there is a plan in place to move the unit to another area where it will have its own entrance and dedicated staff will be allocated. The contingency plan that was put in place in March 2020 remains in place.”
Mrs Grant welcomed the news that the unit would be getting its own space but added: “I am keen to see this progressing as we are coming out of Covid restrictions and it would be good to see work starting on consulting the community and getting the plans in action.
“Also, I would like to see more detail on the plans as to where the new unit will be, where the staff will come from and a timeline for the development. I would hate to see facilities like this unit being eroded in rural areas.”
The MSP wrote to NHS Highland following a constituent’s inquiry and complaints that the public were unaware of the closure.
Ms Dudek said patients requiring to be seen in the MIU were routed to their own GP and seen in their local practice.
She said: “Anyone from out of area requiring a consultation is seen in the GP practice which is covering the Lawson in-patient ward at the time. The Flow navigation centre (111 calls) is aware of this plan and route people as appropriate. At present we are unable to give any timescales around reopening as this is determined by when building work can be completed.”
Mrs Grant is also concerned about the future of the closed Strathy ward at Migdale Hospital, in Bonar Bridge, and is keen to see what NHS Highland is planning when Covid restrictions are lifted. She is also concerned about the future of the Royal Northern Infirmary in Inverness.