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NHS reduces number of hospital beds

THE rehabilitation ward at Lerwick’s Gilbert Bain Hospital is to close permanently allowing NHS Shetland to reduce the number of beds needed.

The move to close Ronas Ward will save the health board almost £500,000, money that is being invested into social services to provide early supported discharge and long-term rehabilitation in the community.

The ward, which contains six beds, was mothballed earlier this year to allow for a trial period.

Director of nursing and acute services, Kathleen Carolan, told Friday’s meeting of NHS Shetland that all patients needed hospital care during the review period had all been appropriately admitted and cared for.

“The information we have provided to the board today shows that we have been able to safely sustain services in both the hospital and the community and continue to support rehabilitation and recovery at home, where that was only available in the hospital previously,” she said.

“I would like to take this opportunity to put on record my thanks for the positive way in which staff have supported these interim arrangements and their willingness to work flexibly so we could maintain staffing levels whilst developing new services for patients.”

All staff previously working at Ronas Ward will now be offered new roles within the hospital, and no member of staff should be disadvantaged by the move, NHS Shetland said.

Health board chief executive Ralph Roberts, added: “As a result of work by staff across health and social care in the last few years we have been able to invest in our community services and we have also seen a reduction in the time that patients have needed to spend in hospital.

“As a result we are now able to safely reduce the number of beds we need in the hospital.”

Since April 2016 the average occupancy of beds in the hospital was 54 per cent compared to an average across Scotland of 82 per cent.