A HEALTH board has agreed to further investigate the building of two new hospitals at a cost of about £27 million, with the likely closure of four others.
NHS Highland stresses the moves are "not a done deal" as a three-month consultation is due to begin on the closure of two small hospitals in Kingussie and Grantown-on-Spey, to be replaced by a new hospital in Aviemore.
Meanwhile, further consideration is to be given to the future of the two hospitals in Portree and Broadford, Skye, with a main community resource centre and hospital - or hub - in one of the towns and a smaller "spoke" facility in the other. This would require a new facility to be built in one of the towns.
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The board agreed a further option appraisal exercise should take place to determine the location of the hub and spoke on Skye.
"We are in the middle of a very long process in which the input of people in both communities is crucial," said Maimie Thompson, for NHS Highland.
"I understand the public will focus on our hospitals in both areas, but I must stress they are not a done deal.
"In Badenoch & Strathspey, we will be consulting fully with residents and organisations on the changes being proposed and looking at a number of sites in Aviemore for a new community hospital and resource centre."
Ms Thompson said the dates of the consultation would be confirmed later this month.
She added: "The situation in Skye, Lochalsh & South West Ross is slightly different, in that we are not yet ready to go out to full public consultation; an option appraisal on where the hub and spoke facilities will be sited has yet to be carried out."