THE BOARD of NHS Shetland is to hear an update on its controversial plan to transfer most patients to Aberdeen by ferry in private next week.
Last month’s decision - by a margin of six votes to four - to scrap its policy of sending patients primarily by plane and switch to making an overnight ferry the default option has been the subject of heavy criticism.
The health board estimates it will cut costs by around £1 million a year, but over 1,250 people have signed an online petition opposing the measure, which Shetland MSP Tavish Scott has also questioned in the Scottish Parliament.
Late last month NHS Shetland chairman Ian Kinniburgh confirmed that a detailed implementation plan would be discussed at the board’s meeting on Tuesday 18 April.
The board has now decided that the discussion will take place behind closed doors.
NHS Shetland chief executive Ralph Roberts said the health board was clear about the “understandable public interest” in the issue, but said the discussion could not be held in public because “at this stage there is some information that is commercial and in confidence”.
“We would fully intend to have a fuller discussion in public at a future date before any final definitive decision is taken on the next steps,” he said.
“However at this stage because we want to be able to have a full discussion, including commercial issues, it would not be fair to the relevant parties to do this in public.”