Ronas Ward is to remain mothballed, with a decision over its future from NHS Shetland expected in May or June.
Today members of the Integration Joint Board – which brings together council and NHS social care services, backed plans for more intermediate care in the community in a bid to keep patients in their own homes and out of hospital.
Intermediate care includes care for people with disabilities, or long-term conditions, and supporting frail people to live independently.
NHS Shetland had revealed it would not be admitting new patients to the six-bed unit as it redeployed workers to fill gaps in the hospital workforce.
Following the meeting, NHS Shetland chief executive Ralph Roberts said a decision about the ward was likely to happen towards the end of May/early June.
“The IJB in my mind have agreed today that the shift in that balance of care is the right thing to do, the future of providing rehab services in the community is the right thing to do and the sustaining of acute rehab in hospitals is the right thing to do.
“As part of that shift in the balance of care they [the IJB] would expect us to disinvest a proportion of money which they will then use in the IJB to support all of their IJB services, so what we will need to do as a health board, having taken that on board, is to make the formal decisions about how we distribute beds in the hospital to take account of that.
“We are likely to do that, bearing in mind the cycle of our meetings, towards the end of May/early June.”
Mr Roberts said between now and then it would discuss with staff about what would happen longer term.
During the meeting director of nursing and acute services, Kathleen Carolan said the “winter capacity plan” had been brought in, and the IJB had agreed it in October last year to ensure safe staffing levels across the hospital.
She told members today the health board had been working with staff since the end of January and staff had started their new temporary roles at the start of the month.
In response to councillor Billy Fox, she said talks had been held about where staff would like to work “to give them a level of choice of what they want to cover”.
“Staff have been able to take a temporary location that is of their choice,” she said, including in outpatients, theatre and day case work.
Mr Fox asked if staff had signed new contracts and Ms Carolan said: “their employment status remains the same” and had not had to change their contract or their level of pay.
• More in next week’s Shetland Times