Extra accommodation for NHS staff working away from home during the Covid-19 crisis has been made available in the Anderson High School’s Halls of Residence in Lerwick.
Additionally, the Viewforth Care Home at Burgh Road in town will be brought back into use to cope with any potential overflow of patients from the Gilbert Bain Hospital in the coming weeks. Some space in the halls of residence could also be used for patients if necessary.
The move has been agreed by Shetland Islands Council, following a request by NHS Shetland to build in resilience around staff accommodation in anticipation of the looming emergency.
NHS Shetland chief executive Michael Dickson thanked the local community which, through the SIC, had made the facilities available.
Mr Dickson said: “We have many doctors and nurses working away from home who need to be accommodated safely. The halls of residence is a facility that is much like a hotel, offering modern individual rooms, with en-suite bathrooms, security and a dining facility. I know all our staff is extremely grateful for this offer.”
SIC chief executive Maggie Sandison said: “We are working alongside the NHS at every level to help the medical services support our local community, and I’m glad we have been able to offer access to our buildings to meet their needs.
“The staff, across both organisations, have worked incredibly hard to explore options and identify solutions under significant time pressure to ensure the NHS has more resilience.”
The move may rekindle memories among older people of the Second World War, when the former Anderson Educational Institute at the Knab was used as a hospital and the Janet Courtney and Bruce Hostels requisitioned for use by the military.
The new halls of residence has 102 beds across 80 rooms – some in shared rooms and intended for siblings from Shetland’s more remote islands. Because of Covid-19 social distancing, rooms can only be occupied by one person.
The halls are expected to be occupied by the NHS for at least the next 12 weeks and will be run as a managed care home and staff accommodation by the SIC (in an education and health and social care partnership) with NHS input as required.
The halls will be in use from Monday while Viewforth is currently being renovated and will be able to accommodate patients in a matter of weeks.