Blueprint For Community Hospitals

A strategy to enhance the vital role community hospitals play in Scotland’s changing NHS is being launched today. Developing Community Hospitals sets out a future blueprint for reorganisation of community hospitals and their services, to meet recommendations made in the Executive’s strategy for future healthcare in Scotland, Delivering for Health.

NHS Boards must place the development of the new model of community hospitals outlined in this Strategy at the centre of future plans for delivery of local health services.

There are 17 different recommendations for NHS Boards to take forward covering the provision of new services such as diagnostics, day surgery and minor injury units, workforce planning, staff training and developing IT and new technology.

Launching the strategy for community hospitals at Leith Community Treatment Centre, Deputy Health Minister Lewis Macdonald said: “The NHS in Scotland is changing. We are moving away from services that are focused on hospital-based care to delivering care locally, to better meet the needs of patients. We are building an NHS that anticipates healthcare needs rather than reacts to them, by targeting people who are most at risk of ill-health. To be able to achieve this stronger, better NHS, community hospitals need to adapt and modernise.

“Community hospitals in both urban and rural areas have good relationships to the communities they serve, with many pre-dating the formation of the NHS. We want to enhance the valuable and central role they play and to expand them in new areas. We expect NHS Boards to take forward the recommendations made in our Strategy launched today to reorganise services, with input from patients so their needs are put first.

“We are committed to sustaining and building upon good community hospitals but there is a balance to be struck between local accessibility and patient safety. Community hospital buildings need to be fit for modern purpose as outlined in this strategy. In some areas this may mean new facilities are needed. On occasions where old buildings cannot be adapted and upgraded, hard choices will need to be made.

“There are many good examples of new ways of working in community hospitals. In Buckie paramedics work alongside nurses and GPs out-of-hours and work in the minor injury unit when duties allow. In Grampian, telemedicine allows for consultations with consultants in Aberdeen and Elgin without the need for patients or doctors to travel. New technology and new ways of working will be an important part of this new approach.

“Leith Community Treatment Centre is also an excellent model of a community hospital working in an urban setting providing a range of health and social work services such as dentistry, physiotherapy, psychiatric nursing and midwifery, with no need for in-patient beds.”

Welcoming Developing Community Hospitals, Dr Bruce W McMaster, Chairman of the Scottish Association of Community Hospitals said: “This strategy is for everyone, it is good news for patients, and good news for extended care primary care teams working across Scotland and will help guide patient centred services for the future. Community hospitals are all about bringing services closer to the patient and throughout Scotland there are excellent examples of good practice and ongoing innovative work.”

The Scottish Executive’s Partnership Agreement gave a commitment to ‘develop a strategy for sustaining small, rural and community hospitals where they are safe and effective’.