A new hospital in Lerwick could be on the cards after health board members backed an assessment of the current Gilbert Bain Hospital in response to a report identifying a “need for change”.
The decision to approve the assessment process was taken at a meeting of the NHS Shetland board on Tuesday afternoon.
Attendees at the meeting were presented with a report which appraised the current Gilbert Bain Hospital and found that it “does not meet today’s standards”.
The report, from the health authority’s head of estates Lawson Bisset, states that the hospital is “well maintained despite being over 58 years old”.
However, a backlog of required maintenance projects could rack up costs in the region of £10 million. And all that without dealing “with the issues of functionality [and] current location of services within the building”.
Speaking via Skype at Tuesday’s meeting Mr Bisset told the board that the “result of the survey demonstrates, I believe, that we have to do something about the Gilbert Bain Hospital”.
Acknowledging the findings of the report interim chief executive Simon Bokor-Ingram said: “I think it’s important to recognise that the care that is provided from the Gilbert Bain Hospital is excellent.”
He said that any changes which may come at the end of the lengthy assessment process should be “flexible” to developments in medical science to ensure that it “sees us through for at least a full generation”.
Noting that the hospital would remain in use for some time councillor Malcolm Bell said that consideration should be given to issues of “public reassurance” when using terms such as “not fit for purpose”.
“Despite its shortcomings, the Gilbert Bain was light-years ahead of the hospital which has just closed in Orkney”, he said.
• More in Friday’s Shetland Times.