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Health / New hospital assessment due to be completed early next year

Lerwick's Gilbert Bain Hospital. Photo: Shetland News

A STRATEGIC assessment on the Gilbert Bain Hospital and its possible replacement is expected to be completed early next year.

The assessment – which is the case for change when it comes to Shetland’s hospital provision – is set to go in front of members of the Shetland health board in February.

It is the first piece of work in a process that, if successful, could lead to the development of a full business case.

In 2019 NHS Shetland board members commissioned an assessment of the hospital after hearing about the constraints the ageing building is placing on the health service.

The hospital, on Lerwick’s South Road, was designed and built in the 1950s and 1960s and NHS Shetland’s head of estates Lawson Bisset previously said that is his view it is not fit for purpose.

A report presented in 2019 said that many of the windows, for instance, either no longer opened or closed, and needed replaced, while electrics, heating and pipework were “significant past their life expectancy”.

There is also little opportunity for expansion or variation to keep it up with modern standards.

Director of nursing and acute services Kathleen Carolan told a meeting of the health board on Tuesday that the assessment could be completed by January.

As part of upcoming work the health board will be undertaking a specific engagement exercise to gather views from professionals, patients and the wider public.

It comes against a backdrop of NHS Shetland coming up with a new clinical and care strategy for the period through to 2031.

Board chairman Gary Robinson said it was “really good to get a timetable laid out for the steps towards the replacement Gilbert Bain”.

The board previously heard that while the Gilbert Bain is well maintained, it could cost around £10 million to deal with a maintenance backlog and bring the hospital up to modern standards.

Earlier this year the board was also told that replacing the Gilbert Bain is a must if NHS Shetland is to meet the Scottish Government’s ambitious climate change target of net-zero by 2045.