Plans are underway to create a new health clinic in Bressay, as part of “gold standard” proposals to develop a fresh new model aimed at improving the island’s health service.
Work undertaken jointly by the local NHS and the Bressay Community Council has been unanimously backed by members, and described as “community integration at its best.”
The pilot project is widely seen as something other communities could also learn from.
It comes after the island lost its community nurse two years ago.
Architectural drawings have been readied for the clinic planned for the old school building, with £20,000 of funding secured from NHS Shetland’s capital projects budget.
Visiting professionals will use the clinic as a base to provide health services, and improved technology will aim to help people through remote consultations.
Health improvement workers will also work from the base to promote healthy lifestyle choices, such as smoking cessation.
Plans are also in place for an island-based first response scheme run either via the Scottish Ambulance Service of the fire brigade. And residents can also be taken to the mainland if need be.
A similar process is also being planned in Yell.
Bressay is one of five “non-doctor” islands in Shetland – the others being Fair Isle, Foula, Fetlar and Skerries.
The new service model has been drawn up following far-reaching consultation with the Bressay residents, in a move which has been praised for its level of community engagement.
It came after discussions were held in December 2017 about concerns surrounding the level of service in Bressay.
The aim was to create what was described as a “sustainable, affordable and clinically appropriate” model for the isle.
The plans were outlined at Thursday afternoon’s meeting by chief community nurse Edna Mary Watson.
“Back in 2017 I was approached by the Bressay Community Council who were raising concerns about nursing services,” she said.
“There had been a period of rapid turnover and a lack of clarity.
“We have gone through a number of drivers for change, and we set up a multi-professional team to take forward this piece of work.”
She said extensive community involvement had been established, with questionnaires being issued to establish the key issues people were faced with.
“We had an open session and discussed with the community the services that were available.”
Councillor Stephen Leask praised the work that had been carried out, and welcomed the collaborative effort that had been made.
Interim NHS Shetland chief executive Simon Bokor-Ingram said the measures were “gold standard”.
Ms Watson said praise was due to Alistair Christie Henry of the community council, for his “drive and openness – and willingness to make it a project rather than just a complaint about the level of health care people in Bressay were getting”.