• Health & Wellness

Centre for Excellence - Skye Lab in Portree

The vision for the Centre for Excellence is for it to support improved and effective health and care service delivery by maximising and establishing excellence in community engaged, multidisciplinary and multiagency models of health and care, practice, education, training and digital innovation. This will support service sustainability, resilience, improved recruitment and retention of skilled staff and the sharing of models of excellence for the continuous improvement of the health and wellbeing of people in remote, rural and island communities throughout Scotland. The CoE will raise the profile of remote and rural practice as a career choice and place the spotlight on Scotland for excellence in developing and delivering effective and innovative multi-agency models of remote, rural and Island health and care from a national and international perspective. More information on the Centre of Excellence is available at:

As a result of the Covid 19 pandemic work had to be put on hold for part of 2020 but was restarted in October last year. The CoE Working Group are currently applying for funding to support the next stage of developing the CoE and working to identify accommodation for the CoE main hub on Skye.

The group has established four interdependent practical working groups: Training and Education, Retention and Recruitment, Digital Innovation and Social Accountability. Each of the subgroups has a lead person, specific objectives and deliverables. The aim of the subgroups is to enable key expert partners to collaborate at a practical level to produce and progress programmes of work in accordance with the CoE purposes and functions, In his report of 2018 Sir Lewis Ritchie recommended the following regarding Digital Innovation: We recommend that:

a) Ongoing collaboration with the Digital Health & Care Institute should continue to explore and evaluate emerging digital technology to enable remote monitoring and video consultations from people’s homes.

b) A review of video-conferencing facilities at all relevant care sites should be undertaken to provide reliable 24/7 professional-to-professional communications On his (virtual) assessment of progress to date on the implementation of his report in October 2020 Sir Lewis emphasised the importance of embracing new digital technological developments in health and social care in the light of the pandemic. The main initiative to come from the Digital Innovation group is the creation of a Skye lab.

Skye Lab has two components: a digital living lab, inspired by the Living Lab concept (A ‘Living Lab’ is a user-centred, open-innovation ecosystem integrating concurrent research and innovation processes within a public-private-people partnership. (ref Living lab - Wikipedia)); the other component being a physical training site.

The Skye Lab concept has several potential layers: Skyelab strives to be a base for health and social care training, a place to demonstrate new and innovative digital services and technologies and, in the future, a research hub for health and care in remote and rural communities e.g academic research (eg postgraduate students) into digital innovations for remote rural communities. This proposal involves working in partnership with Portree-based company Sitekit Ltd, an SME focussed on digital innovation that works at a national level with NHS England and NHS Scotland on digital transformation projects. Sitekit has offered the use of premises to host the facility pro-bono for the initial 6m proof of concept period. There has already been a considerable appetite from a range of clinicians for using the premises for training purposes and it is hoped that the first training sessions will take place in early March.

A sub-group of the DI group has been set up to take forward the Skye Lab concept. In June 2021 SkyeLab has been launched as a community interest company (CIC). Within its first year, it aims to create training space, a “shop window” to demonstrate emerging technologies, and a lab for research and development.

FIND OUT MORE @ - SkyeLab – A Living Lab for Health and Care Innovation on the Isle of Skye

Ronald MacDonald, one of the founding directors, said: “The pandemic has highlighted the important role that digital technology can have in enabling access to, and in the provision of, health and social care services.

“This is especially relevant for a remote rural area such as Skye and Raasay. “The creation of SkyeLab should help all in our community have better access to the relevant health and social care facilities.”

Prof Ronald MacDonald & Trish Gray

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