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NHS Highland chairman welcomes 'significant milestone' for Caithness redesign

By Alan Hendry

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Professor Boyd Robertson: 'I look forward to the next steps.'
Professor Boyd Robertson: 'I look forward to the next steps.'

The chairman of NHS Highland has welcomed a "significant milestone" for the redesign of health services in Caithness.

The process moved forward when the initial agreement was approved by the NHS Highland board at its November meeting. It will now go to the Scottish Government's Capital Investment Group for approval.

The chairman, Professor Boyd Robertson, said: “This is a significant milestone for the redesign project. Approval will allow us to proceed to the next stage which will involve a more detailed development of the service model, workforce plan and accommodation brief.

“We can also appoint design teams to develop proposals for the two new community hubs and changes in Caithness General Hospital and take them forward to the planning permission stage.

“I look forward to the next steps.”

Three site options were given in Wick for a possible health hub. One near the airport, adjacent to Noss Primary School, was chosen as the favourite after public consultation.

The Noss location has since been identified by the project team as the preferred site in principle for the Wick hub, while in Thurso only one site was put forward – Dunbar Hospital.

A spokesperson for NHS Highland said recently that further technical and cost appraisal work will be carried out during the next year to determine the final choice of site in line with the consultation.

Pulteney House or the Town and County Hospital are the alternatives in Wick.

The outcome and recommendation will be presented to the NHS Highland board for a final decision.

The proposed changes at Caithness General include:

  • An increase in single room and en-suite provision to meet current guidance
  • A reconfigured emergency department, primary care emergency centre and clinical decision unit to better support patient flow
  • Development and expansion of point-of-care testing and rapid access to diagnostics

The community midwifery unit at the Wick hospital was completed in October.

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