Outpatient clinics are to be temporarily relocated as work at Arbroath Infirmary gets under way on April 28.
The essential building upgrades will bring the busiest outpatient unit in Angus in line with Scottish health guidance by replacing all the old cold water distribution system with steel piping.
The contract has been appointed to local Scan Building Service who are well experienced in medical and live ward situations.
Engineering and systems lead David Bennett said: “This is the best and most cost effective solution we have for the hospital and the patients. Vital services are being maintained in Angus.
“If we were to have a complete shut down we would have to find homes for all the current clinics from both floors. We would have to spend a lot more to build temporary accommodation with the cost of additional IT, power and heating.”
Coinciding with the maintenance work is a £130,000 refurbishment to the hospitals radiology room which will give higher quality images, producing clearer x-rays and a more up-to-date and accurate service to patients.
Clinical services manager with NHS Tayside Stuart Keys: “There will be some costs with relocating services such as upgrade costs at Little Cairnie and staff relocating expenses, but that is minimal.”
Cardiology and Ophthamology clinics will remain in Arbroath and will be moved to the Queen Mother Wing while work, which is expected to take 12 weeks, is going on.
Orthopaedics and Dermatology clinics will be moving to Stracathro Hospital for the duration of the works and will continue to provide the five day service.
Maternity services and the Minor Injury and Illness Unit will not be affected and will remain in Arbroath Infirmary.
Arbroath Infirmary Senior Charge Nurse, Paul McAndrew said: “Services such as the IRN Warfarin clinic will be staying locally to minimise disruption in particular to these patients.
“Little Cairnie will absorb some of the clinics in order to retain as many services as possible in Arbroath and minimise travel.”
Mr McAndrew said: “We have worked with the planners so that we haven’t had to cancel a single clinic. There is one clinic that by the nature of it we don’t see many people as they are chronic patients. The nurses in charge of this clinic will visit the patients in their homes as it’s the easiest way for them to manage their service.”
Mr Keys said: “We understand there is a downside to these essential works and that is the travel but the local bus runs a direct service from Arbroath to Stracathro Hospital and the Scottish Ambulance Service are on board to help in the same capacity as they do now.
“This will not increase waiting times and patients will not have to go outside Tayside for their services. Everything will be managed within Angus.”
There will be approximately 1,500 appointments that will need to be changed.
Mr Keys said: “All patients will be informed by letter of where to go for their outpatient appointment. Just to be absolutely certain we will also be calling patients whose appointment location will have changed to ensure a belt and braces approach and minimise any confusion.”
Surrounding consistent speculation on local hospital closures the upgraded facilities and water pipe work is a nod in the right direction.
Mr Keys Said: “People always have the worry about facilities and questions around whether they are going to close the local hospital. What I would say is this is the busiest outpatient department in Angus. There is 112 different clinics going through it. There are also a lot of doctors and specialist nurses coming out into Arbroath to provide the service locally. Upgrading the infrastructure reinforces the service and provides long term security.”