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ECHAlliance Ecosystems: Highlands & Islands Ecosystem

Date of Launch: 26 November 2018


The Highlands and Islands Ecosystem for mental health and active healthy ageing is a new collaborative network bringing together academic expertise, industry partners from SMEs to major international companies, health and social care professionals from across the NHS, local government, voluntary sector, and patient and service user representatives.

The Ecosystem is coordinated by the Scottish Rural Health Partnership and Highlands and Islands Enterprise, and will play a key role in bringing together key organisation and people with an interest in rural mental health and/or active healthy ageing, creating a platform for sharing new and important policy development, research, funding opportunities and innovations, with the aim of becoming ‘bid ready’. All our meetings are held in Inverness with the opportunity to join-in online.


  • To accelerate knowledge exchange and information sharing
  • To offer opportunities to participate in research, development and implementation programmes relating to rural mental health and active healthy ageing
  • To avoid unnecessary duplication
  • To provide innovation and economic growth through access to rural mental health and active health ageing knowledge transfer and expertise
  • To aid policy development in rural mental health and active healthy ageing
  • To enable the growth of opportunities, including interactions and collaborations at European and international level
  • To become ‘bid ready’.

Ecosystem Facts:

The Highlands and Islands is a spectacular and diverse region with a population of around 466,000 people.

NHS Highland provides healthcare services to the majority of the mainland area. The main Island groups have their own Health Boards and services in Moray are provided by NHS Grampian. NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde provides some services into Argyll and Bute.

Within NHS Highland there are: 16 hospitals, including Raigmore, the only District General Hospital in the area, all the other hospitals are community/rural/county hospitals. NHS Wester Isles has 3 hospitals. The largest is the Western Isles Hospital, a Rural General Hospital located in Stornoway. NHS Orkney and NHS Shetland each have one Rural General Hospital in Kirkwall and Lerwick respectively. People living in Orkney also access services at Raigmore Hospital in Inverness, with people in living in Shetland accessing specialist services through NHS Grampian at the Aberdeen Royal Infirmary. People living in Moray receive healthcare services from NHS Grampian, with people living in Moray having access to a General Hospital (Dr Grays in Elgin) and 5 Community Hospitals.

The Inner Moray Firth is the most densely populated area stretching from Ross-shire south to Badenoch and Strathspey, and is home to around 153,000 people, more than a third of them in the Highland capital of Inverness. The area is connected with the rest of Scotland by major trunk roads, rail and ferry services. Inverness Airport has daily flights to Amsterdam, London, and several other locations in the UK and Ireland.

Caithness and Sutherland covers a large, relatively sparsely populated area at the very north of mainland Scotland, it has a population of around 40,000 people.

Lochaber, Skye and Wester Ross covers much of the West Highlands and is an area which includes some of Scotland's most stunning scenery. Its population has shown steady, sometimes spectacular growth over the last 30 years, although many smaller rural communities have lost population to the larger centres. Much of the overall increase has been fuelled by immigration, particularly people retiring to the area. The Outer Hebrides are a chain of islands off the west coast of Scotland, stretching from the north of Lewis, south to Barra, with a population of around 36,000 people. Each island and each community has its own distinctive character. All are bound together by the Gaelic culture and language which continue to exert a strong influence. The Orkney Islands are located six miles north of the Scottish mainland, lying on latitude 59° North, where the North Sea and the Atlantic Ocean meet. Orkney is a cluster of islands centred around the Orkney mainland with a population of around 20,000 people.

Shetland lies at Europe's north-western frontier, over 200 miles north of Aberdeen and nearly 1,000 miles from Brussels. It comprises more than 100 islands, 16 of which are inhabited. The island’s population is around 23,000 with more than a third living in the capital, Lerwick.

Argyll and the Islands is in the south-west of Scotland. Its population of around 71,000 is widely spread. Unlike other areas covered by Highlands and Islands Enterprise, there is no obvious capital of Argyll and the Islands. The largest towns are Campbeltown, Dunoon, Lochgilphead and Oban.

Working Group Members

 Karen O’Hanlon    
 Andrea McColl    
 Catriona Strang    
 Martin Malcolm    
 Alan Murdoch    
 Dr James Finlayson    
 Steve Leslie    
 Bruce Armstrong    
 David Sim/ Geoff Wilcock    
 Lucy Fraser    
Anne Mason/ Frances Hines    
Elspeth Lees    
Moira Mackenzie 
Mark Grindle    
Sarah-Anne Munoz    
Tara French    

Ecosystem Coordinator: 

Karen O’Hanlon, Business Development Manager

The Scottish Rural Health Partnership

Centre for Health Science

Old Perth Road, Inverness, Scotland, IV2 3JH.

Phone: +44 01463 279580


Twitter: @scotruralhealth


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Upcoming Events
Highlands & Islands Ecosystem Gathering
13 May 2019

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