A new £3 million health centre for Scalloway should become a reality within five years after a short list of options was agreed by Shetland NHS Board on Friday.
The existing health centre has been deemed not fit for purpose, being too small to offer ancillary services such as counselling, podiatry, physiotherapy and occupational therapy. It is also not fully compliant with the Disability Discrimination Act.
A larger centre is needed as the population of Scalloway could potentially increase by at least 600 people, placing an increased burden on the current practice of around 20 per cent.
The centre covers the areas of Scalloway, Trondra, Burra, Tingwall, Whiteness, Weisdale, Girlsta and Quarff. Services such as minor surgery, ante-natal and midwifery, heart monitor-ing and dispensing of medicines are carried out at the practice, with specialist services such as mental health carried out on a visiting basis. There is no dental provision.
A new centre would be able to accommodate more services, the meeting was told.
The options explored included amalgamating with another practice, although this was discounted as the only appropriate one in Lerwick already had 9,000 patients (the Scottish average is 5,500). Amalgamating with the Gilbert Bain Hospital was also discounted as the hospital is constrained for space and outwith the catchment area.
Options to be considered include extending the existing building, which could be technically difficult, and rebuilding on the same site using the procurement method whereby the board would own the building.
Other possibilities include amalgamating with SIC plans for a new care centre in central Shetland (although the timescale may not fit), a new build elsewhere in the catchment area, or a new build in the Scalloway area working with a partner organisation. The last option may be available as part of a proposed Hjaltland development but is time-limited.