A PROJECT which explored the most effective ways for communities in rural Scotland to get involved in planning their future health services has won a national award and attracted international interest.
The Remote Service Futures Project was a joint Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) initiative between the Centre for Rural Health, part of the new University of the Highlands and Islands, and NHS Highland, and looked at the challenges of providing services in remote and rural areas – including staff recruitment, and travelling times and costs for patients, families, carers and health professionals.
It involved events such as community workshops, forums and roadshows in communities in Argyll, Wester Ross and Lochaber to help people and service-providers liaise over local needs and future provision.
Now the completed two-year scheme has received one of two awards for the best Scottish partnership project in the Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) Scotland Awards, presented by Angela Constance, Minister for Skills and Lifelong Learning, at a ceremony in Dunblane.
KTPs help organisations and businesses to develop by enabling them to tap into research and expertise.
The Remote Service Futures Project was among 14 shortlisted entries from around 120 KTP projects in Scotland. It will now go into the UK-wide awards to be announced in London in October.
It was headed by researcher and KTP associate Amy Nimegeer whose report is now informing the government, NHS and others on effective ways to liaise with people living in remote parts of the country.
The project has been the subject of public lectures and conferences, and contributed to professional development courses. Amy, who last year won a KTP seminar series best presentation prize for the project, said it had attracted international interest from academics and governments, while a ‘toolkit’ of best practice ideas has been trialled in Australia.
She added: “The project has given local people and service-providers an appreciation of each other’s issues – such as needs, budgets and staff recruitment. I am delighted that it has been recognised with an award.
“Future services can only be effective if communities are given a say in the planning process and I believe our project has highlighted how difficult that can be in practice, but the result has been a set of very practical and even innovative methods to help the NHS and communities engage with each other.”
Christina West, Argyll and Bute community health partnership’s clinical services manager for mid-Argyll, said: “This is a real accolade for the NHS Highland and UHI Centre for Rural Health partnership, and the first time an NHS partnership has achieved this award – recognising that by organisations working together we can identify new and innovative solutions.”
Neil Duncan, KTP adviser for North Scotland, commented: “This was a very successful partnership, and credit must be paid to the enthusiasm and professionalism of Amy Nimegeer, and all the UHI and NHS participants.”
The Centre for Rural Health is a partnership between the University of the Highlands and Islands and the University of Aberdeen. It is based in Inverness and aims to advance knowledge of health and health services in rural and remote communities.
UHI media relations officer
Notes to editors
The Knowledge Transfer Partnership aims to help businesses to improve their competitiveness and productivity through the better use of knowledge, technology and skills. It is funded by the Technology Strategy Board along with other government funding organisations.
The University of the Highlands and Islands (UHI) covers the region, including Moray and Perthshire, in a partnership of 13 partner colleges and research institutions, and a network of over fifty outreach learning centres.
UHI gained full university status in February 2011, evolving from the higher education institution UHI Millennium Institute.
There are currently 8,156 students studying on undergraduate and postgraduate courses or undertaking postgraduate research with UHI.
UHI is the only university based in the Highlands and Islands with a mission to strengthen and develop the social, economic and cultural prospects of the region. It uses a blend of learning methods, including traditional classroom and video-conferencing tutorials.
UHI is a limited company registered in Scotland No. 148203. Scottish charity No. SC022228. Registered office: 12B, Ness Walk, Inverness, IV3 5SQ.
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