Archive | Rural-Proofing

Dewar 2013: What have we learned?

Dr Annie Tindley introducing the conference

Dr Annie Tindley introducing the conference

In April this year, the Dewar 2013 conference was held in Fort William.

The day stimulated much debate and discussion, and the full conference can be viewed by webstream here.

Dr Annie Tindley, Senior Lecturer in History and member of the Dewar Group has put together the following slides which – very helpfully – sum up some of the discussion that took place.


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Dewar 2013 Webcasts now available

The webcast footage from the Dewar 2013 conference, held on Friday 19th April, is now available.

videoiconThe idea to webcast the conference was a bit of an experiment by the Dewar Group, but we were delighted to learn that over forty people viewed live on Friday, and there has been a lot of interest across Scotland (and beyond) in being able to access the footage after the conference too.

The webcasts are split into four sections, and record all the events held in the main auditorium.  You can access the webcasts here.

We are very interested to know your thoughts on the webcast, and get an idea of who has been accessing it.  Please feel free to get in touch using the contact form here.

There was plenty tweeting on the day too.  Dr Miles Mack has archived this too, which you can find at this Storify page.

One of the workshops

One of the workshops




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Success at Dewar 2013 Conference

On Friday 19th April, over fifty people attended the Dewar 2013 conference, held at the Kilmallie Free Church Community Centre in Fort William.  Another forty four people attended by webcast – an experiment for this conference, but one that we think went very well.  The day was widely covered on Twitter too, with the intention of engaging a wider audience and making remote participation possible.


The day saw a wide range of presentations and discussion about the future of rural areas in Scotland – with some focus on health care, but also the wider infrastructure and recruitment & retention to rural areas.   Between excellent shortbread and sandwiches, a vibrant range of workshops and plenaries looked at many angles of rural health care.

Miles giving his radio interview.

Miles giving his radio interview.

The morning kicked off early with the BBC Radio Scotland ‘Out of Doors’ presenter Euan McIlwraith interviewing some of the folks from the current Dewar Committee.  The programme was broadcast yesterday, and is available on BBC iPlayer for the next week.  We think it covers a lot of the conference topics effectively, and especially as the interviews are with ‘grass-roots’ GPs who can speak from much experience.

You can listen to the programme on BBC iPlayer until 26th April.  Scroll to 6min 30s for the feature on Dewar.


Annie Tindley introducing the conference

Annie Tindley introducing the conference

The day was then led very admirably by historian Annie Tindley, with a rapid introduction to the background behind Dewar 2013, including the need (and ease) of looking at Dewar’s original recommendations from 1912 into today’s context.  Why is it easy? Because a lot of the topics raised then, are just as pertinent now.  The benefits of having such wide-ranging input into the day – from our historical experts, to leads on political intervention, community infrastructure, local authority, education and healthcare – were evident.  In terms of looking at challenges to rural health care, we’re in this together and we need to find a multi-agency partnered approach to deal with many of the common issues.


So the day followed the programme as planned, involving participants as much as possible.  We heard from local Applecross resident Alison MacLeod, about their search for a new GP, informed views from the past, including former GP Dr Roddy MacLeod, the issues involved in maintaining emergency responses across rural areas, and a vibrant session with RRHEAL on supporting the continued professional development of staff in rural areas.

Hungry from the stimulating debates that resulted, we were treated to an excellent lunch by the ladies of the Kilmallie Free Church Community Hall, with some also able to enjoy a walk and enjoy the fantastic views of Loch Linnhe.  We were reminded that it’s not always like this in Fort William!


The afternoon session saw further involved debate and participation on issues such as First Responder schemes, rural GP recruitment & retention, and promoting effective working between communities and government.

One of the workshops

One of the workshops in full swing (Annie is keeping an eye on tweets there too!)

And then we all came back together, to sum up, make plans and allow further observations from everyone present  (including webcasting/tweeting).

Access to the webcast

The webcast part of the conference was an experiment, and one which seems to have worked rather well.  Over 40 people were able to join us, and participate using twitter and email.  There is no doubt that this opened up the conference to folks who find it impossible to make the one or two day trip away to attend conferences, even in semi-rural areas like Fort William.  We’d like to thank David Eglinton of HCVF Television, who did a great job with limited broadband in providing a continuous webcast.  In the next week, we aim to get the clips up here on so that you can view the full conference over the web.

What’s next?

The conference has generated many ideas and much enthusiasm for driving forward the issues that are clearly important to improve the prospects for Scotland’s rural and remote communities – both in terms of health and also other infrastructure.  It is clear that folk left the conference with more direction and resolve to ‘get on’ with the job of critical issues, such as recruitment and retention.

Watch this space for updates on opportunities to be involved with this.  Please be welcome to use the ‘comments’ facility on this page to submit your view, or use the hashtag #Dewar2013 on Twitter to tag your comments.

Finally, the Dewar Group would like to thank the Kilmallie Free Church and Community Centre for excellent hosting on the day.  We would enthusiastically recommend the venue to other groups looking to hold conferences in the Fort William area.  In addition, Dr Jim Douglas was instrumental as ‘our man on the ground’ and worked particularly hard to make the day as successful as it was.




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Dewar 2013 Conference – join the webcast

If you’re not able to make it to the Dewar 2013 Conference, next Friday 19th April, you are welcome to join us ‘virtually’ by accessing the webcast.

The main conference sessions will be broadcast (via professional webcast experts) on the day, and we intend to make the footage available for viewing after the conference too.

We will also be keeping a close eye on tweets using the #Dewar2013 hashtag – you can contribute to the debate and make your own comments throughout the day.

To view the webcast, go to this page on the day.  No login or registration is required, although we would be very pleased to hear from you and any comments about whether the webcast has been helpful.  There is a form below for this purpose.

Webcast Registration

It would be helpful to have an idea of who is intending to join us by webcast.  Please complete the following form to help us ascertain how useful the webcast will be.  We may ask you to complete a very short survey afterwards to get some feedback too.

[Form removed following conference]


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Dewar 2013: Programme now available

The programme for the Dewar 2013 Conference is now available.

>> Book online now!

Please see details below, and go to this page to find out more about registration.

Friday 19th April, Fort William

Sir John Dewar, author of the 1912 Dewar Report

Sir John Dewar, author of the 1912 Dewar Report

10.00 – 11.00 – Coffee and Registration, Main Auditorium

11:00 – 11:55 – Plenary Session, ‘The Dewar Centenary’, Main Auditorium, Chair: Dr Annie Tindley

11.00 – 11.10 – Using history as a tool for change; what the group has done so far – Dr Annie Tindley

11.10 – 11.20 – Remote & Rural Health Care within Scottish Government: NHS Policy Development – Ms Jill Vickerman, NHS Quality Improvement Scotland

11.20 – 11.40 – Dewar in a Nutshell – Dr Miles Mack, GP Dingwall

11.40 – 11.55 – Dewar 2013:  Individual and community well-being, and social capital.  Dewar is still relevant today and we have 3 tests for 2013 – Dr Jim Douglas, GP & Dewar Group


12.00 – 13.00 – Problem Solving Workshops (choose one) 

Main Auditorium – Social, Capital and Community Enterprise,
Chair: Dr Steve McCabeDr Iain McNicol, Alison MacLeod, Applecross Community Co & Gill McVicar
Breakout Room 1 – A History Masterclass: Dewar and Dr Lachlan Grant, Ballachulish Dr Annie Tindley, Dr Patricia Whatley & Dr Roddy MacLeod Breakout Room 2 – The Emergency Services in Remote Communities:  ‘How can we help you?  These are our problems, how you can help us.’ Representatives from Fire, Police, Coastguard, RNLI & MRT Breakout Room 3 – Health Professional Education for Remote and Rural Communities Ronald MacVicar, Pam Nicol & Bill McKerrow


13:00 – 14:00 Lunch and walk along Caol Beach

14:00 – 15:00 – Afternoon Sessions (choose one)

Main Auditorium – Technology, Recruitment and Retention: What works? Chair: Dr Miles Mack.Representative from the Centre for Telehealth, representative from the Transport Project & Dr David Hogg, GP, Arran Breakout Room 1 – Public sector bids, community buy-outs, working with Government and agencies Mike Foxley, Enterprise Company, Eigg buy-out Breakout Room 2 – First Responder SchemesAlan Knox, SAS Breakout Room 3 – Social and Community Care/IntegrationJoanna Hynd, Gill MacVicar &representative from NHS Highland Board


15:00 – 15:30 – Coffee

15:30 – 16:15 – Plenary Session

What have we learned and are there any agreed actions?, Chair: Dr Jim Douglas (Chair, Dewar Group)

16:15 – 16:30 – The historical summary

Dewar in 2013, Dr Annie Tindley

16:30 – 17:00 – Networking opportunity

 19:00 – 22:00 – Conference dinner


We hope to see you there.  Further details including registration and accommodation are available here.



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2013 Dewar Conference

Kilmallie Community Centre café

Kilmallie Community Centre café

The 2013 Dewar Conference is being finalised. Speakers are being confirmed, accommodation identified and the word is out.

The event, taking place on 19th April in a stunningly innovative venue at Fort William, will offer an excellent chance for rural health professionals to get together with other providers of rural infrastructure.

For more details, please see this page.


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Video: Dewar Group Lecture in Lochaber

Dr Miles Mack

Dr Miles Mack

Dr Miles Mack, a member of the Dewar Centenary Group and GP in Dingwall, gave a lecture to the Lochaber Local History Society this month.  The event is one of many talks and exhibitions that have taken place across Scotland, over the last year.

This presentation has been filmed, and you can view the whole talk below.  You may need to crank up the volume to hear the audio, however hopefully this gives a useful introduction to the story of Dewar – and why it is still so relevant to Scottish rural practice today.  The black and white photos may seem a distant past, but the problems highlighted in recruitment, retention and resource are still hot topics for rural general practice now.

The Dewar Group will shortly be announcing information about a wide-ranging conference to be held on Friday 19th April in Fort William.  Until this is available, keep the date free… we can guarantee a fascinating day involving not just medics, but others involved in providing modern health care to Scotland’s rural population.



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Dewar Project: next steps endorsed

Sir John Dewar
Author of the 1912 Dewar Report

Alex Neil, Scottish Cabinet Secretary for Health and Wellbeing, has indicated support for further work into the challenges of remote and rural practice.

Further information is available from the following news stories:

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Community Hospitals: Research Opportunity


News just in – the NHS National Institute for Health Research is inviting proposals for research, specifically to evaluate the activity, appropriateness and cost-effectiveness of community hospital work.

We know that community hospitals come in all shapes and sizes, varying from provision of day-care services to the elderly, to A&E and emergency admission units, capable also of delivering chemotherapy and dialysis.  This wide spectrum often makes it difficult to hone into exactly what – collectively – makes community hospitals appropriate and effective.

The brief for this opportunity seems very relevant to rural community hospital practice, and therefore we highlight this in case colleagues are interested in taking this further.

Full details are available at:

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RCGP Response to the White Paper

The RCGP yesterday submitted its response to the White Paper on reforming the NHS.  Whilst the theme of stronger clinical leadership is supported, there remain concerns about the impact of the proposals on the ability of practices to provide continuity of care – a core essence of UK general practice.  Allowing a free choice of GP practice would “very likely threaten the viability of some practices, especially rural practices that provide a vital service to patients who are less mobile and potentially more vulnerable”.

The full response is available from the RCGP website.

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