Hospital to re-open on May 16

ROTHESAY’S newly-refurbished hospital is due to open to patients on Monday, May 16 – when the Victoria Annexe will close to long-term care patients for the last time.

The closure of the Annexe, and the reopening of the Victoria Hospital, will coincide with the full implementation of a new community-based model of care for the island – with several new ideas being piloted locally before being spread out to other parts of Argyll and Bute.

The new model should also finally bring an end to the universally-criticised practice of using police officers to assist elderly sheltered housing residents when no warden service is available.

NHS Highland’s Bute and Cowal locality manager, Viv Smith, told members of Bute Community Council this week that refurbishment work at the hospital is now complete, and a public open day will be held on Tuesday, May 10, once a comprehensive ‘deep cleaning’ programme at the building is finished.

Mrs Smith was joined at the BCC meeting by Julie Hempleman and Cath McCloone from Argyll and Bute Council’s adult care team, who explained the way the health board’s new model links with the services provided by the local authority.

Among the new initiatives being trialled on Bute as part of the island’s new service model are a single assessment process, so NHS and council staff use the same paperwork to assess patients and avoid asking the same questions twice or more, and an overnight community nurse to avoid patients needlessly having to visit A&E for minor problems.

Mrs Smith acknowledged that the future of the Annexe had been “a very emotive issue” on her last visit to the community council, but said the

health board had been tracking every hospital patient from Bute over the last few months and was still convinced that the new model of care, which will see provision at the Annexe replaced by community-based services in patients’ homes, was going to work.

She also said there had been no problem of insufficient beds at the Annexe during the time of the building being used to house in-patients during the Victoria Hospital’s refurbishment.

Julie Hempleman said the new Bute model would see social work and NHS staff working from the same base at the Annexe.

Cath McLoone, meanwhile, gave an update on the council’s review of older people’s services and the proposals to put home care, day care and residential care out to tender..

“The older people’s services redesign is not a cost saving exercise,” she said, “but there is less money coming from the Scottish Government, and there is increased demand for services.

“Demographics say there will be a sharp increase in the number of people requiring care, and yet our budgets are standing still at best.

“The council isn’t going to ask just any company to tender – the criteria will be weighted very heavily towards quality of service rather than cost.”