NHS Shetland has moved to reassure the public that the number of palliative care beds in the Gilbert Bain Hospital is not being reduced.
The health board was reacting to concerns raised in the local media in relation to changes being implemented at Ronas Ward.
In a statement issued on Wednesday, NHS Shetland said Ronas Ward was being adapted to provide a better service, while the level of palliative and end of life would not be affected.
“The aim is to increase our ability to provide short episodes of intensive rehabilitation to help patients following an acute illness or the deterioration of an existing long term condition.
“The unit will have six inpatient beds and six ambulatory care beds for patients who do not require an overnight stay in hospital,” it said.
NHS Shetland chief executive Ralph Roberts added that they were implementing changes in order to be able to providing health services fit for future needs.
“I would want to emphasise that all patients who are currently treated or cared for in the Gilbert Bain Hospital will continue to receive their care in the hospital unless the clinical staff involved believe their care would be more appropriately provided elsewhere.
“I would also reassure the local community that we are not reducing palliative care beds in the hospital and any patient who needs the support of the hospital as part of their end of life care will continue to be able to receive palliative care in the Gilbert Bain,” he said.
He continued saying: “Overall the proposal is intended to make better use of the physical and staff resources and skills that we have.
“It will also allow us to shift the focus of our service towards supporting patients at home whenever possible and reducing the time patients spend in hospital unnecessarily.”
Staff are currently being consulted on the changes which are planned to be implemented during spring this year.
Around £120,000 will be invested in 2014/15 for additional medical staffing for the redesigned Ronas Ward unit.
NHS Shetland is also recruiting a consultant physician to lead on older people’s care.
The recently approved health board’s palliative and end of life care strategy can be found here.