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Major healthcare provision upgrades planned for Seafield Hospital and Muirton Ward

By Alan Beresford

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SEAFIELD Hospital and dementia unit Muirton Ward in Buckie could be in line for extensive revamps over the next few months.

The Seafield Hospital and Medical Centre, Barhill Road, Buckie. ..Picture: Daniel Forsyth..
The Seafield Hospital and Medical Centre, Barhill Road, Buckie. ..Picture: Daniel Forsyth..

Patients from Moray primary mental health unit – Ward 4 at Dr Gray's Hospital in Elgin – are set to move to Muirton for up to 18 months.

An NHS Grampian spokesperson said: "It is our intention to provide care for patients, currently on Ward 4, in Muirton Ward at Seafield Hospital, while works are carried out at Dr Gray's Hospital.

"People with dementia currently being cared for there will move temporarily to a suitable space identified within Seafield Hospital itself. We know continuity of care – and minimal disruption – is vitally important for both these patient groups and we hope this will provide reassurance to patients, and their relatives and carers.

"We have not finalised a timeline for this move; we will ensure all those involved are kept informed at every stage. In the meantime, care for both patient groups will continue in their current settings."

Simon Bokor-Ingram, NHS Grampian portfolio lead for Moray.
Simon Bokor-Ingram, NHS Grampian portfolio lead for Moray.

Emptying Ward 4 is required, Simon Boker-Ingram, the health board's portfolio lead for Moray, said, to make Dr Gray's safer for mental health patients and to enable a new MRI scanner to be installed.

Making improvements at the Muirton Ward and moving patients there, he added, is a "two-for-one".

"There will need to be a bit of money spent preparing that area at Seafield," he said.

"But it's a very efficient way of doing it and the key thing is that it will be safe.

"Obviously there is a cost attached, but that's the money that we will be seeking from the Scottish Government to help facilitate all of those moves.

"We have that opportunity, when we are decanted out, to get the anti-ligature work done and we can get the MRI installed.

"So actually we're getting two for one, really, with this because we would have always have had to empty Ward 4 anyway."

This will cue two stages of works at the Buckie hospital. Firstly, a currently disused area of Seafield will be revamped in order to accommodate the dementia patients currently housed in Muirton. Once they are safely moved and settled in to their new surroundings, work will begin on Muirton in order to make it ready to receive the Ward 4 patients.

At present, it is thought that the Muirton patients would be ready to be moved next spring providing funding is sourced from the Scottish Government.

It is believed that public consultations will take place later this year.

Mr Boker-Ingram noted that avoiding a move out of the area will benefit Ward 4 patients and families by limiting disruption.

He added: "There were few [options], but we looked at all of those potentials.

"It has been a long time getting here because of the complexity and the particular needs that group of patients will have.

"Most importantly, from my perspective, is that the patients remain in Moray. That was always the challenge.

"Had we not been able to secure an alternative in Moray, being out of the area would have made it really difficult for patients.

"But, as importantly, really difficult for family to visit and all those sort of things.

"And for when patients are reintroduced to the community."

The move was welcomed by Buckie Councillors Sonya Warren and John Stuart.

Councillors Sonya Warren and John Stuart. Picture: Beth Taylor
Councillors Sonya Warren and John Stuart. Picture: Beth Taylor

Councillor Warren – who is one of Moray Council's Older Person's Champions – said: "It's great to get the opportunity to have Muirton Ward refurbished to enable the Ward 4 patients stay within Moray.

"The added benefits if having a further space within Seafield refurbished for the Muirton patients temporarily will also have additional benefit to both the hospital and the community.

"I look forward to the public consultations regarding this development once the funding is secured. This is a win-win for everyone as it also helps progress the installation of the MRI scanner in Elgin, also finally being able to update Ward 4 facilities with the long awaited anti-ligature work, as well as delivering updated facility in our local hospital facility."

Councillor Stuart stressed the importance of keeping all those affected by the move involved.

He continued: "Following contact from members of the public about the move of Ward 4 to Muriton, I have since spoken with a representative from Dr Gray’s.

"Proposed plans and costs are being carefully considered at this stage and I am led to believe that any moves will bring about improved facilities in Buckie at Seafield and Muirton. With the move, it will also allow for improvements at Dr Gray’s Ward 4 and the installation of the MRI scanner – a much needed resource for Moray.

"We need to make sure that people are involved in how these moves are handled. When any moves begin, they need to be done in a way which minimises any detrimental effects to people’s health and wellbeing.

"Reassuringly for people receiving inpatient care in Muirton, the move as it stands would see them moving next door into an improved Seafield. Again, those moves need to be done sensitively, with people’s needs at the forefront of the planning."

Plans to temporarily shift Ward 4 patients to Buckie was revealed through a Freedom of Information request.

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