Am Bratach No. 319
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NHS stalling over
‘north coast hub’
Confidence in NHS Highland’s ability to deliver its promised new health
and social care facility in Tongue by the target date has been described as
“pretty low” among the communities concerned. A recent meeting revealed that
little progress had been made over a period of five months, despite
assurances that a project manager would be appointed to take the building
forward last November.
An NHS Highland spokesperson said: “There will
be a project manager appointed but no date has been set yet.”
facility is intended to replace the existing Caladh Sona care home in
Talmine, run by the Highland Council, and the NHS-operated Melvich Community
Care Unit in Portskerra. Both buildings are reputed to be in need of
Fears that the £1.5 million capital spend agreed by the
Highland Council for a replacement building at Talmine might be jeopardised
by the delay have been underscored by recent budget pressures. Although this
money was agreed by the council four years ago, it has not been used pending
NHS Highland’s “consultation” on amalgamating the two existing facilities.
A Highland Council spokesperson said: “Highland Council has historically
committed £1m per annum capital to adult services facilities, and that
commitment was re-affirmed in the council’s new capital programme agreed in
March 2018. Capital funding remains in place to support adult services
investment, and Highland Council is fully supportive of the use of this
funding to address the challenge of provision for older people on the north
NHS Highland added: “This budget has not so far been
allocated to any particular projects but, following on from the previous
programme, we are working on the basis that North West Sutherland is a
priority. The budget for the North West Sutherland project will be drawn
from the £1m per year, subject to agreement on the final proposal by the NHS
Highland Board and Highland Council.”
NHS Highland said that the site
identified next to the old manse in Tongue is already owned by the Highland
Council and will be made available for the project. However, a timetable for
completion of plans and proceeding to building work is not yet available,
although the drawings have been instructed “as a priority”.
design options are on the table. The first would accommodate a fifteen-bed
care home along with space for other services to be based in the building.
All costs for this would have to be found from the £1m per annum.
second option would be a ten-bed care home with space for other services. In
addition, five flats or houses which could be used to provide high levels of
tailored support for the tenants would be included in the complex.
NHS Highland says that funding for the housing element of this “could be
found from separate housing streams ”.
The spokesperson added: “There
have been no decisions made on the final layout of the housing element but
arrangements are being made for some
members of the community to visit
the Howard Doris Centre in Lochcarron, which already operates a successful
model of care home and supported tenancies”.
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