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Providing healthcare on Lewis

Census information is helping to keep rural communities in the Outer Hebrides connected with essential health services.

NHS Western Isles uses census information to track population movement on the islands, as well as the average age of islanders.

What the census says

Dr Maggie Watts from the health board said: “The population of the islands is generally moving towards the towns, such as Stornoway. It may seem obvious, then, that we would put more focus on services in these places.

“However, when we look at census data relating to age and where people live, it’s apparent that a lot of older islanders are still living in remote locations and not towns.

“When we compare this with other sources of information, such as the provision of public transport, there is a clear need to maintain services in rural areas.”

“Without census information, it would be a lot harder to properly inform these decisions"

Dr Maggie Watts, NHS Western Isles

Making use of the data

Maggie said the information was a useful source to help plan where services, such as doctor’s surgeries, should be located.

She highlighted changes in GP practices on Lewis as an example of how census information has helped guide decisions.

“In this case, although overall demand was moving towards Stornoway, population intelligence helped make the case for maintaining GP premises across the island", she explained.

Feeling the benefits

Maggie added: “Without census information, it would be a lot harder to properly inform these decisions, which have a real benefit to people in the Outer Hebrides.”

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