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Hebrides News


Western Isles NHS axed a plan to upgrade South Uist dental clinic three years ago it has emerged.


The allocated £40,000 was never spent on improving the facility.


Now the health board is abolishing the dentist’s service in Lochboisdale, saying the premises can never be made fit for modern use.


The organisation said it has a set amount of resource each year to address all estates maintenance issues and therefore needs to prioritise and risk assess the effects of any investment on the boards ability to deliver sustainable services safely across the islands.


Thus it is unable to address all issues raised across the whole estate by refurbishing or replacing all the older buildings on a like-for-like basis, as the regulations on building standards and clinical standards have changed beyond recognition since these older buildings were constructed.


Even if the Lochboisdale surgery was refurbished, it could never have met modern required standards as there is physically not enough space in the building.


A health board spokesperson said: “In this situation, relocation or replacement is the only reasonable option left.”


The risk associated with the building has now, following further assessment, “passed the point of being assessed as manageable,” she added.


She explained: “Far from being ignored, a proposal was previously created to improve Lochboisdale Dental Clinic, and capital funds of £40,000 were earmarked.


“The plan was to create a second surgery, which involved internal significant remodelling. Unfortunately, the advanced planning for this highlighted substantial problems with the building itself.


“The planned work therefore could not proceed on the advice of our experts and those funds were reassigned to the clinic in Tarbert, Isle of Harris, which was at that time in unsatisfactory temporary accommodation.


“Further work on Lochboisdale was therefore halted pending a full review of dental service delivery in the Uists, as investment and modernisation had also been planned for the Uist and Barra Hospital.


“Arriving at a definite plan for dental services and the Uist and Barra Hospital has proved much more protracted than hoped, delaying investment and modernisation of our Uist dental services.


“I acknowledge the view of those who took part in discussions about the entire dental service future in the Uists that their preference is not to lose any local provision. The impact of any proposed change is listened to and considered.


“The decision to close Lochboisdale is an operational and immediate decision, based on quality and safety following inspection.


“In relation to the issue of access to the new service, all school children are, and will continue to be, treated at Liniclete Dental Clinic and pre-school children also attending are always accompanied.


“Our experience is also that frail elderly patients are invariably accompanied. Some patients will have to travel further and some less so, although these distances are no more than in other parts of Lewis and Harris.


“We will be alert as we progress to difficulties that may arise, and will examine specific cases to see how we might alleviate any problems.


“Our current dental team will continue to contribute to the services locally.”


Closure clinic upgrade stopped three years ago

6 April 2017