THE LIBERAL Democrats have set out their vision to widen healthcare, diagnosis and treatment services available at GP surgeries and pharmacies.

The party has pledged to embed more nurses, dieticians and physiotherapists with GPs so that patients can benefit from a wider variety of healthcare in their local community rather than facing lengthy waits for specialist services or long journeys for treatment.

The party also aims to empower pharmacists to do more prescribing, making use of secure health records.

The Lib Dems want to create strong clinical networks to give professionals working in remote and rural communities across Scotland support from their peers.

The Lib Dems' manifesto will include a commitment to overhaul professional education to include more training placements in rural communities to give students a taste of the benefits of the work.

The party also wants to adapt national guidelines so that they support rural healthcare.

Leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrats, Willie Rennie, has outlined his party's plans to offer better services for those in rural parts of the country.

The Lib Dems have warned that super-specialisation and centralisation of health services in Scotland has left people in remote and rural areas, such as Caithness, with long journeys to hospital for treatment.

READ MORE: Election 2021: Lib Dems call for formal schooling to start at age 7

The party has committed to creating new measures to encourage staff to take up posts in rural and remote areas.

Mr Rennie said: “The pandemic has had a massive impact on our NHS and the heroic staff who work within it. I want to ensure that the NHS recovery is taken seriously in every corner of Scotland.

“There will always be centres of excellence, but we must get far more healthcare in local communities so care is as close as possible to home.

“We have seen people in Caithness angry that specialist maternity services have been taken out of their local hospital so that many mothers now have to travel to Inverness to have their baby. We've even seen reports of mothers going as far as Livingston.

“We want a new deal to increase the range of treatments and diagnosis that are undertaken in communities and hospitals across the country."

Mr Rennie has urged politicians to learn from successful methods used internationally in order to improve health services for rural communities.

He added: “In Australia and Canada there are posts called rural generalists.

"There is even an Australian College of Rural and Remote Medicine. This makes careers in rural areas much more attractive.

“Our plans will increase the number of professionals living and working in rural areas which will help build stronger, diverse communities.”