We believe in local initiatives and welcome the joint scheme by NHS Western Isles and the UHI Millennium Institute to develop academic courses that are relevant to the particular needs of patients and staff in the Highlands and Islands. When approached, we will be happy to work with them to facilitate the work of the proposed institute of remote and rural medicine.
I, too, welcome the development. Does the minister envisage that it will lead to the creation of a faculty of remote and rural medicine, examples of which can be found in the midwestern states of the United States of America? If the Scottish Executive is serious about safeguarding medical services in rural areas, which have particular needs, it is vital that such a body has not only a training role, but an advocacy role.
Absolutely. A great innovation is being developed in the Western Isles: we are going to develop academic courses that are specific to the needs of remote and rural communities and remote and rural medicine, which is a specialism in its own right. I welcome that. It also allows us to
I am happy to get more involved in the issue. To date, we have not been directly involved, but I am more than happy to discuss the matters with the organisations that are involved. I welcome an innovative idea about how best Scotland can address some of its more difficult health provision issues and can learn about examples of best practice worldwide.