TRANSFORMING Montfield Hospital into a care home for the elderly moved a step closer this week thanks to a possible leasing deal with Shetland Islands Council.
Under the arrangement the new £1.9 million care home, approved by NHS Shetland in May, would be run and managed by the SIC.
The deal would mean work on changing parts of the 25 year old hospital could begin as soon as this autumn – assuming the heated construction industry which has faced growing demand recently does not hold things back.
Previously board members have discussed paying for the project in a number of ways, including making a capital grant to the council.
However regulations laid down by the NHS prevent health boards from funding other organisations if the money given is to be used on properties owned by the health service itself.
But the health board’s director of finance, Nick Kenton, says a new strategy could help get round the problem.
He told board members on Tuesday Shetland NHS could lease the refurbished areas to the SIC.
Under the terms of the agreement the board would make a grant to the council for the initial capital outlay.
It is hoped using this method would not attract capital charges to the board.
In turn, that would make the lease cost much lower for the SIC, potentially saving it some £126,000.
The refurbishment could provide up to 17 community care beds, going some way to relieve the pressure on waiting times.
In a separate development, NHS Shetland has been granted permission to retain over £900,000 it managed to save during the last financial year.
Following a video conference link with a member from NHS Shetland’s external auditors PricewaterhouseCoopers, the health board was given leave to keep a £976,000 underspend.
The move will help ease the burden on the strained revenue budget.