The Aberdeenshire Integration Joint Board unanimously supported the proposals earlier today (Wednesday) and approved further engagement on the proposals with patients, service users, carers, staffs and the wider public.
However, while the new facility was warmly welcomed by the board, the news will come us a disappointment to many residents in the town as it now effectively heralds the end of the Ugie Hospital.
Health bosses said the physical environment at the Ugie was “well below the optimum expected” for a modern day healthcare facility.
Members of the board were advised by Mark Simpson, north partnership manager for the Aberdeenshire Health and Social Care Partnership, that the Kinmundy Road site for the care village had been favoured by the Peterhead Project Group which had been set up to identify future property needs and alternatives for health and social care delivery in Peterhead.
He told the IJB that there was provision for investment in a north care village at Peterhead within Aberdeenshire Council’s Capital Plan.
It will feature a care home boasting 60 en-suite rooms over three wings, a community hub for day service provision and eight supported accommodation bungalows or flats.
The hub is likely to be used by people with learning disabilities – ultimately replacing Willowbank Day Centre which is in poor condition and also now too large given the move to mainstream community provision under the IDEA ‘Inclusive Day Services – Enabling Aberdeenshire’ principles.
In the report put before the IJB, Mr Simpson, explained: “The project group has gone back to consider whether the Ugie site might be a possibility for the new care village but the limitations became apparent.
“In order to accommodate everything within specification there would be a requirement to go beyond two floors, making emergency evacuation more complex and also losing the benefits of the ‘village feel’ across the site and natural neighbouring community interactions.
“The site at Kinmundy therefore has clear advantages. It is also now confirmed as the preferred site for the new Peterhead Community Campus, creating even better opportunities for inter-generational partnerships.”
It is envisaged that the care home will be designed and furnished in line with good practice guidance for dementia-friendly spaces, with Smart technology playing a significant part in maximising independence and managing risk.
Under the proposals, inpatient services will be consolidated within the Summers Ward at Peterhead Community Hospital where bed occupancy has been “low for a number of years”.
Mr Simpson reported: “Both Ravenscraig and Summers Ward have had staffing challenges in recent years and bringing the two teams together would increase resilience.
“Summers Ward already has very significant experience of providing rehab care so learning needs would be minimal. The proposal also keeps the service local to Peterhead, again a priority identified by the community from previous engagement.”
The project board has also recommended that ‘interim care’ beds continue to be supported in a local care home.
On the wider concerns among the Peterhead community over the loss of the Ugie Hospital, Mr Simpson said in his report: “It is acknowledged that there is understandable local interest in what would happen to the Ugie site if services do move elsewhere, but this is obviously beyond the scope of the IJB and would fall to NHS Grampian to determine in line with their Asset Management Strategy.
“The Ugie site is one of two sites identified in the Local Development Plan with potential for a future replacement health centre, but it should be stressed that the existing site does have limitations in terms of size and there is no commitment or capital yet identified for such a development.”
Commenting on the proposals, Peterhead North and Rattray councillor Anne Allan said: “Personally I hate to think of the Ugie Hospital closing, but I have been round it and I know the state it’s in and it is not fit for today’s use.
“The Community Hospital has so many advantages – there are extra nurses there if they need them, the GPs are on site , there’s X-ray and other things already on site. So basically, to me, it seems a no-brainer.”
Cllr Allan also encouraged the board to present clear and transparent facts to tackle the “misinformation” which was circulating in the community.
She said: “There’s a lot of interest in this in the community and some of it is based on misinformation so I think one of the things we need to do is get the right information out there to the public.
“A lot of the people are saying it’s the fantastic care that they get there (at the Ugie) and I think they’re mistaking that if the Ugie ward moves over to the Community Hospital they will lose that care.
“But if the staff move as well, that care package that they’re getting should still be with them and I think that’s something that needs to be highlighted.”
IJB vice-chair Councillor Anne Stirling commented: “This is a good news story for Peterhead. Notwithstanding some of the concerns around the physical building around the Ugie, but in the wider scale of things this is good – it’s an investment in design and an investment in the community.”