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VIDEO: Website to highlight historic issue of challenges of medical practice in the Highlands


By Louise Glen

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Medicines that would have been used in the Highlands.
Medicines that would have been used in the Highlands.

The Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh (RCPE) has launched a new website, Remote and Rural Remedies.

The website features a digitised and transcribed collection of surveys conducted by the college in the mid-19th century to investigate medical practice in the Scottish Highlands and Islands.

From 1850 to 1852 the college sent surveys to church ministers and doctors across the Highlands and Islands.

These surveys gathered information on the number of medical practitioners in the parishes and the conditions faced by those accessing and providing medical care.

The surveys provide a stark account of what it was like to need medical attention in remote and rural Scotland.

These records feature fascinating details about the care that was available to remote communities, the challenges faced by practitioners and the opinions of the survey respondents. Inspired by this collection, RCPE have created accompanying school activities, blog posts, videos and online exhibitions to provide context and support different avenues of engagement.

This resource also includes interviews with doctors and nurses currently practicing in the Highlands and Islands – uncovering stories of the challenges of dealing with medical emergencies, Covid–19 and the medical conditions faced by those living in the Highlands and Islands.

Daisy Cunynghame, head of heritage at the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh, said: “These records demonstrate the college’s long history of conducting research into healthcare provision and medical practice with the aim of regulating the profession to protect the public.

"We are excited to bring this collection to the public eye and very proud of the efforts of colleagues and volunteers that were involved in creating this web resource.

"Researchers now have access to digitised records which highlight the challenges of medical aid and healthcare in the Highlands and Islands at a time of increasing social, industrial and economic upheaval.

"Our hope is that the website becomes a hub of continued activity for our audiences to learn about, discuss and reflect on remote and rural medicine in Scotland both then and now.”

This newly launched website will enable allow current medical practitioners and allied health professionals to contribute to the discussion by submitting their own survey.

In these surveys, the college invites practitioners to share their experiences and perspective on remote and rural medicine today as well as and how much and what which aspects have changed over time.

To visit the website visit https://www.rcpe.ac.uk/remoteandruralremedies.

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