‘Excellent turnout’ at St Brendan’s public meeting

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There was an excellent turnout for a recent public meeting to discuss progress on the project to replace St Brendan’s in Barra.

The meeting, which took place on February 6 in Castlebay School, gave senior representatives from NHS Western Isles and Comhairle nan Eilean Siar the opportunity to provide updates to the local community on progress towards the re-provision of both hospital and social care services.

It also gave people in Barra the chance to ask questions and provide feedback about the current process to replace the current health and social care facilities.

Chief Executive of NHS Western Isles, Gordon Jamieson, said: “Upwards of 85 people attended the public meeting, which was an excellent turnout. We had a very positive and engaging conversation about the project, and gave a commitment to ongoing and regular engagement of the local community in Barra.”

Members of the local community were updated about progress to date. Last year, the Scottish Government Health Directorate’s Capital Investment Group approved the ‘Investment in Health and Social Care in Barra and Vatersay – Initial Agreement’, which meant that the project could progress to the next stage of developing an Outline Business Case.

Since then, a Project Board and Project Team have been set up to progress the work, both of which contain representatives from Barra and key staff from NHS Western Isles and the Comhairle.

The important work currently underway involves engaging with all key stakeholders in the development of an outline business case.

This work will involve very detailed preparation and assessment of all viable options. It is anticipated that the Outline Business Case will be developed and presented for approval by the St Brendan’s Project Board, the Health Board and the Comhairle by the beginning of April, before being submitted to the Scottish Government for final approval. Following approval of the Outline Business Case, work to develop a Full Business Case will commence.

To ensure ongoing involvement of members of the Barra community and St Brendan’s staff, regular staff meetings and workshops will be held and another public meeting in Barra will take place around the same time as the next Project Board meeting, which will be held in Barra at the end of March.

With regard to the Health Board’s current position, the plan is to progress the option of a facility on the current site, with the GP Surgery and Scottish Ambulance Service.

In relation to the social care facility, the Comhairle is currently exploring three options; houses of multiple occupancy, studio apartments with no communal space and studio apartments with communal space. Care input and support would be provided on an individual client basis.

Comhairle nan Eilean Siar’s Director of Social and Community Services, Iain MacAulay said: “Importantly, the redesign of both accommodation and support must ensure that service users’ living arrangements are both safe and secure, with care provided to meet a broad range of individual needs. The proposed models take account of the vulnerability of older people and will have care staff based within the new facility 24 hours a day, 365 days of the year, similar to what exists within the current care home of St Brendan’s.”

To progress work on the current site, a critical technical appraisal of the site adjacent to St Brendan’s is being carried out.

Current documentation on the St Brendan’s modernisation project is available from the NHS Western Isles website homepage www.wihb.scot.nhs.uk/ by clicking on the ‘St Brendan’s’ icon on the bottom right hand side of the page.