Healthcare in the islands is under the NHS and there is one hospital on St.Mary's servicing all the islands. St Mary's Hospital has 10 inpatient beds and it also has an out-patient department and a Minor Injuries Unit which is open 24 hours a day. St.Mary's Hospital has a dentist surgery and a birthing centre with resident midwife. X ray screening is available once a week by appointment.
Next door to the hospital is the health centre where doctors surgeries take place as well as a pharmacy which dispenses all medicines on the islands. There are three full time doctors on St.Mary's. Doctors visit the off islands fortnightly which is more convenient for residents and also useful to keep in touch with patients who perhaps are unable to make the journey to St.Mary's due to mobility problems. These surgeries are held in the local community centres but home visits can also be requested.
These visits are also arranged by boat, there is a specific medical boat for the doctor, midwife and health visitor. Medicines are also dispatched to the off islands to local secure venues such as a post office counter for collection.
St.Mary's has an ambulance service with a paramedic team and there is also an ambulance boat for reaching patients on the off islands in an emergency. The off islands have ambulance vehicles a similar size to a quad bike but with canopy and double bench seat, making them ideal for off road driving and to navigate some of the more remote areas of the island. Each off island has a team of co-responders who attend incidents at first notification, which is a pager alert following the 999 call. The co-responders are responsible for taking care of the patient until the ambulance service from St.Mary's arrives with fully qualified paramedics. Co-responders are volunteers who are resident on the island and locally employed.
In the event of an emergency that cannot be dealt with at St.Mary's Hospital (which does not have all equipment or the expertise such as consultants as the doctors are GPs) a patient would be flown to the mainland by helicopter with Cornwall Air Ambulance. The helicopter can be airborne within two minutes of a 999 call and reaches the Isles of Scilly from its base at Newquay in 28 minutes. The Cornwall Air Ambulance transports Isles of Scilly emergency patients to Treliske Hospital in Truro or Derriford Hospital in Plymouth. Cornwall Air Ambulance does not receive any official funding and is a charity that depends on donations, fund raising and lottery tickets. It is a charity supported by many locals as it provides an essential lifeline.