Slainte – Health Matters – Tiree’s District Hospital

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It’s not the most beautiful part of south Glasgow, bounded as it is by the Clyde Tunnel approach road and some industrial wasteland. But as I drove past, the six huge cranes and concrete structures covering an area the size of 11 football pitches, were impressive. And the new buildings will have a profound effect on Tiree. In three years time the new South Glasgow Hospitals Campus in Govan will finally be ready. The largest ever Scottish NHS hospital building project – a staggering £840 million when all the bills are added up – will contain three hospitals in one: adults, maternity and kids. And it’s being paid for by the Scottish Government ‘straight up’ – no PFIs like they have south of the border.

The new hospital complex will have the biggest intensive care unit in the country and one of the biggest A&E departments. The 14 floor adult care block will contain 1100 beds – all single rooms with en suite facilities. The 5 storey children’s block will have a covered roof-top garden allowing patients in their beds to be wheeled out into the fresh air.

The project, built by Brookfield Europe, is part of the city’s hospital re-design. In future there will be just three main Glasgow hospitals – the Southern, the Royal and Gartnavel. The new Stobhill and Victoria hospitals will mainly look after day care patients. The Queen Mum’s, Yorkhill and Western either have, or will be, closed.

Getting to the Southern has always been a problem. With no nearby rail station, people have had to rely on buses or cars. Four new multi-storey car parks promise to make parking easier, but experience with other hospitals in Glasgow has been that they fill up with staff cars (not unlike the Baugh surgery!). Of course, if you arrive at the hospital’s helipad as an emergency, this will not be your first priority! Accommodation nearby is also likely to be a problem with most hotels several miles away in the city’s west end.

This new hospital matters to us particularly on Tiree. Before the NHS in 1948, the Western used to be ‘Tiree’s hospital’ with one bed reserved for islanders and paid for by local fundraising. But the Southern was the closest to the new Renfrew airport and island patients often ended up there. However, in the 1980s it was one of the oldest hospital sites in the city. I remember doing a placement there in 1987 and the medical wards still had round pin plug sockets – the nurses had to fight over adaptors to plug equipment in. Things have moved a long way in the last few years and there are already a number of new wards that have come on stream. Having a huge, brand new hospital ‘on our doorstep’ should give us the best chance of getting better. Let’s just hope we don’t have to use it that often!

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