NHS SHETLAND is operating out of sub standard facilities that require an investment of £7 million to put right, according to a report published on Tuesday.
The health board’s property strategy highlights underlying structural and service issues at Lerwick’s Gilbert Bain and Montfield hospital that could cause “disruption to the delivery of healthcare” in the isles.
Around one third of the health board’s estate is identified as “less than satisfactory”, with a shortage of single bed hospital rooms and poor internal layout.
It will have to spend at least £50,000 a year to meet government energy and emissions targets, a sum that is likely to increase in the future.
The report also says that nursing accommodation on the remote isles of Fair Isle, Foula and Fetlar is “poor”.
Fixing these problems will be a challenge for the board as funding is extremely tight, and new methods of raising cash will have to be explored.
On Tuesday the board agreed to stick to its long term strategy to build a new Gilbert Bain Hospital by 2021 and to share facilities wherever possible with the local authority.
They also want to encourage staff to work from home as much as possible, make their working hours more flexible and share work stations in a form of “hot desking” to free up office space.
A comprehensive condition survey of the islands’ two hospitals revealed £7 million worth of work was needed to resolve “significant problems”.
The report said that despite investment in the 68 bed Gilbert Bain Hospital “the overall condition of the estate exposes NHS Shetland to significant risk in terms of failure of building elements and the consequential possible loss of services”.
It added: “Much of the work needed is for upgrading of engineering services. These services are generally not visible to staff and public which can lead to a perception that the building is in a satisfactory condition when the reality is somewhat different.”
The report was critical of the hospital’s multi bed wards, mixed sex accommodation, the lack of single rooms with en suite facilities, poor internal layouts and the “sub optimal quality” of the hospital environment.
Ultimately the health board will need to replace the 50 year old hospital, the report said.
“The timescale for this is dependent on affordability. It is clear however from the deteriorating physical condition of the hospital that a timeframe which seeks to have a new hospital by 2021 would be not unreasonable.”
The NHS hopes soon to close the interim placement unit at Montfield Hospital that will free up 800 square metres for other services, including dentistry.
They propose transferring ownership of housing and staff accommodation to the council or Hjaltland Housing Association and then leasing them back. The laundry building and its machinery is also “some years past its sensible life”.
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