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Health / Replacement hospital could take seven years to come to fruition

Lerwick's Gilbert Bain Hospital. Photo: Shetland News

IT could be seven years until a possible replacement Gilbert Bain Hospital is built, an NHS Shetland meeting heard this morning (Tuesday).

The process of getting to the possible construction phase could take around five years – with two years estimated for the subsequent build.

Total projected estimated costs rise to £125 million but this figure includes staff accommodation and net zero carbon measures.

Nothing has been decided yet but at Tuesday’s meeting the project moved a small step forward.

Members approved a strategic assessment, which aims to inform the Scottish Government and NHS Shetland of the need for investment.

The assessment includes reference to also potentially creating accommodation for staff – with an assumed requirement of up to 100 units.

There is talk included of possible one, two and three bedroom flats, bedsits and student accommodation.

Also included in the solutions being considered is a helipad.

NHS Shetland is describing it as a “major health and care investment project”.

Nursing and acute services director Kathleen Carolan said there may be other organisations which may wish to invest in the project.

The Gilbert Bain Hospital in Lerwick has been operating in its current form since the 1960s but there is little opportunity to keep up with modern standards.

This has led to the health board exploring the case for change.

The strategic assessment will now be submitted to the Scottish Government’s capital investment group for consideration when it meets next year.

If the assessment is approved at that point, there will be a number of further stages leading to the eventual creation of a full business case.

At Tuesday’s meeting NHS Shetland chairman Gary Robinson paid tribute to staff’s progress on the project so far.

“It’s been a tremendous effort by everyone,” he said.

There is recent precedence when it comes to a replacement hospital in an island setting, with NHS Orkney opening its new £64 million Balfour facility in 2019.