The modernisation and redesign of the community and hospital services in Badenoch and Strathspey took another big step forward last month (May) with the Outline Business Case for the project being approved by the Scottish Government.
The NHS Highland board approved the outline business case in November last year. It combines the redesign for the strath with Skye, Lochalsh and South West Ross with combined construction cost of around £30m.
The strath will continue to shift the balance of care from hospital to the community and will include an increase in community nurses, community mental health workers, care at home staff and allied health professionals.
As part of the wider redesign there will also be a new 24-bed community hospital ‘hub’ located in Aviemore and the alteration and/or refurbishment of existing premises including the medical practices in Grantown and Kingussie. The Wade Centre in Kingussie has already been refurbished and work on Grant House starts later this year with expected completion in December.
These developments will ensure that a range of services currently located in St Vincents and Ian Charles Hospitals continue to be provided locally.
NHS Highland Project Director for the Badenoch & Strathspey redesign Georgia Haire explained while waiting for the approval the work to the develop the full business case has continued at pace.
"This will flesh out the proposals in more detail and outlines how services have or will move from current provision to the new model of care. It will also confirm actual, not estimated costs, and contractual arrangements for the construction elements.
"This is another exciting step in the process of modernising community and hospital services for the people of Badenoch and Strathspey. We look forward to delivering high-quality sustainable services that the community can be proud of.
"The design of the new hospital building is well advanced with an agreed overall layout and we are now working on the detailed design and landscaping. We expect to submit our planning application within the next month."
She added: "Much of the redesign focuses on the out of hospital elements and steady progress is being made. We now have step up/step down community beds up and running. Focussed work on co-ordinating end of life care in partnership with Marie Curie, Highland Hospice, MacMillan local care home providers, community staff and volunteers is progressing well.
"Our Transport and Access working group also continues to make progress."
Health Secretary Shona Robison said: "I’m pleased that approval has been given to the outline business cases and look forward to sight of the full business case when it is ready. This capital investment of more than £30 million will modernise Community and Hospital Services in Badenoch & Strathspey and Skye, Lochalsh and South West Ross and ensure communities can access excellent local services that will meet current and future needs for generations to come."
The new community hospital in Aviemore is being designed and built by hub North Scotland Ltd, an initiative set up by the Scottish Futures Trust. Balfour Beatty was appointed as main ‘tier 1’ contractor working alongside architectural firms Oberlanders based in Edinburgh and Portree-based Rural Design – and engineering firms Waterman Group and Rybka.
The full business case for the project is scheduled to be presented to the Scottish Government in early 2019, with the construction of the hospitals going ahead once it is approved.