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Health / NHS Shetland buys guesthouse to accommodate locum staff

Breiview Guesthouse.
Breiview Guesthouse.

NHS SHETLAND has acquired a Lerwick guesthouse to provide further accommodation to visiting staff due to the constraints of the busy rental market.

Responding to an enquiry by Shetland News the health board confirmed that it had concluded the purchase Breiview Guesthouse.

The nine-bedroom guesthouse went on the market as a going concern four years ago after owner Dieter and Christine Glaser decided the time was right to retire after 25 years in the local hospitality sector.

Head of estates and facilities at NHS Shetland Lawson Bisset said private rental accommodation was increasingly difficult to source for visiting staff.

The health board relies heavily on agency nurses and locum staff to provide health care in the isles.

The cost of providing temporary locum staff, including their accommodation, has been described as a key reason behind overspending at NHS Shetland.

Bisset said Breiview Guesthouse is being added to the health board’s existing portfolio of staff accommodation.

“The board also relies on private rental accommodation, however this is increasingly difficult to source, particularly during the tourist season,” he said.

Board chairman Gary Robinson added it was not just the cost but also the availability of the accommodation that created a challenge for the health board.

“It can have an impact on services if we are not able to accommodate the staff that we need when we need them. Having our own property will help us to manage that more easily than we have done in recent times,” he said.

A recent assessment for the NHS Shetland estate found that the local health board had a need for 100 units of staff accommodation.

“There is a need for accommodation, and in any future build [the proposed new hospital] we should look to have accommodation on our own.”

He added: “Purchasing the guesthouse was a sensible thing to do. It is unlikely that property prices in Shetland are going to reduce, in fact it is more likely that they will go the opposite way.

“So, if we are in a position to build a new Gilbert Bain Hospital, or whatever comes out of that process, then we will be able to release the Breiview Guesthouse back on to the market and hopefully at the very least cover our cost.”

Lawson added that the guesthouse was purchased through an additional Scottish Government capital allocation for that purpose.

The asking price at the time was over £400,000 but it is understood the sale went through for less.