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New Hospital At Aviemore Finally Goes To Planning Stage But How Long Will Caithness Redesign Take?

26th February 2019

With respect to the new hospital at Aviemore Dr Boyd Peters said "We have been on this journey since 2012 and the land purchase is a significant step towards securing much needed modern healthcare facilities for the population of Badenoch and Strathspey"

After seven years it finally reaches the planning stage so that must mean yet another two or even three years until its on the ground and working.

In Caithness redesign of health services has been going on and on for several years and recently we have the early stages of a "hub" idea being promoted. Land not yet sorted out then a business case is still to be developed and then planning and actual funding to be put in place even though we have had a suggestion of £30million with no confirmation from Scottish Government at a time when the health board budget is under huge stress.


So great to see Aviemore finally getting there but no wonder across Highland people are getting bored to tears with the interminable meetings and lack of oomph to get anything done in a reasonable time scale.

So here we see Aviemore seven years after starting the process only at thee planning stage - See

Redesign papers started for Caithness in Dec 2012

For West Caithness and Dunbar hospital a press release on 2nd December 2011 as follows -
NHS Highland invites you to an Open Drop-In Event to Consider Future Options on Tuesday December 6, 2011, at the Pentland Hotel, Thurso, from 4pm - 7pm.

The purpose of the open event is to invite local people to further consider the range of possible options to deliver future health services across the West Caithness area. This will include options for the Dunbar site and enhanced services provided in the community.

The various options identified so far are based on a wide range of views from local people, staff and partner agencies.

The open meeting will provide a further opportunity to consider the existing options proposed and identify if there are any additional options. A process will be in place to evaluate feedback on each of the options.

Our commitment is to continue to have a clear process in place to listen and respond to local views about how future services should be delivered.

The feedback from the open event will be reported back to an extraordinary meeting of the North Highland Community Health Partnership (CHP) Governance Committee. This has been arranged specifically to look at the feedback we have received on the various options and consider the next steps as part of the decision making process.

We would urge local people to make every effort to attend the event. You are welcome to come along at any time between 4pm - 7pm.

If you are not able to attend, but would like to take part in an evaluation of options, please get in touch with North Highland CHP Support Manager, Kay Oswald, on 01955 880246 or by email at

Evaluating Options for West Caithness Health Services

Reasons for reviewing existing local services
A number of possible options for changes to health services in West Caithness are currently being evaluated. This includes changes to some services which are delivered on the Dunbar Hospital site, as well services provided in the community.

There are a number of reasons why it makes sense to review local services. People are living longer and are telling us they want to be safe and independent in their own homes for as long as possible.

Another reason is that parts of the hospital building and local health centre are now very old and not fit to run safe and modern services.

Developing and evaluating options for the future
A number of possible options have been identified and described so far, including the status quo. Based on feedback we have received, further evaluation of each of the options is required. It should be noted that many of the options cannot be considered in isolation. The plan is to evaluate the range of potential changes and then agree the range of services which will be provided. Some of the options are described below, but all of the options will go through an evaluation process.

Closing inpatient beds and providing more care in the community
One option is to close the 12 inpatient beds in the Dunbar Hospital. Benefits identified include better use of the Dunbar site, as well as freeing up resources, including people, physical space and money. Part of this proposal would mean that other services could be consolidated on the Dunbar site. At the same time, it would support further local investment in better health and social care services across the West Caithness area. Challenges are the concern over loss of local inpatient beds and provision of palliative care beds.

Developing centre of excellence for health care in Thurso
Continue to provide dental services, specialist outpatient clinics, x-ray, physiotherapy, community mental health and learning disabilities services from the Dunbar site. Benefits are that key services continue to be provided locally. Indeed there is support to improve the range of services from the site. Challenges relate to parts of the Dunbar Hospital building and to support this option will require improvements to the building or some reconfiguration of services.

Reducing Primary Care Emergency Service overnight
Primary Care Emergency Service, including treatment of minor injury services, would continue to be delivered on site every day from 9am to 9pm. This means removing the overnight service. Benefits are that the service runs when it is most needed. Disadvantages are that the one or two people who need to be seen overnight would need to wait until the morning or be seen in Caithness General.

Next steps and decision making process
An extraordinary meeting of the North Highland Community Health Partnership (CHP) Governance Committee has been arranged specifically to discuss the West Caithness Redesign proposal. This will be held at the Weigh Inn, Thurso, on Tuesday December 20 at 2pm. The meeting is held in public. Anyone who wishes to submit evidence to the committee should contact North Highland CHP Support Manager, Kay Oswald, on 01955 880246 or by email at by December 13.

Caithness Redesign discussion on the web cam from January 2019 at
Click to 33 minutes in to the meeting
See the board paper at

Do people feel that things have improved since 2011?
Or is redesign just another term for saving money?


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