70 islands, 10’000 years of history, 14 km north of main Scotland

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Orkney. The ferry from John o’Groats in northern Scotland to Burwick in southern Orkney takes some 40 minutes for the closest distance between the two islands – some 14 km. The discovery campaign says «This is my Orkney». 70 islands, an area of 990 km2, a population of some 21’000 people. There is a lot to see like the Neolithic henge and stone circle «The Ring of Brodgar». And there is the NHS.

Kirkwall. The NHS Orkney (a total of 620 staff) really pushed the concept for the replacement of the Balfour Hospital (89 years in service) to stunning heights. See more with the 2+ minutes flythrough video.
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(PDF by Robertson, NHS Orkney)

Some facts about the new hospital
> Planned opening: 2018 (building work is expected to begin 2016)
> More than £60 million project
> New name? Not yet decided
> Ground floor and first floor, total area 42’000 sqft
> Electronic Patient Records
> 47 beds; 22 Acute, 16 Rehabilitation, 4 Cancer & Palliative Care, 4 Maternity and 1 Mental Health Transfer
> 2 assessment bays
> 100% single room provision – all alarms and buzzers to go directly to a hand set in the nurse’s pocket as well as to a central base
> 70 m2 for Physio
> Emergency Department, Renal, Day Unit, Outpatient and Day treatment areas
> No helipad because of the close airport
> WiFi points at regular intervals and mobile phone connectivity
> NHS Orkney will continue to provide all catering services for patients, staff and visitors
> 320 spaces for parking
> Architects: Keppie, health unit, Scotland

Cathie Cowan, Chief Executive of NHS Orkney: «This new facility is a key part of ourambitious programme to transform care and services».
Health Secretary Shona Robison: «The hospital and healthcare facility will transform the way services are provided on the islands».


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What a dazzling project. To be started soon. After writing now this blog about unusual hospitals around the world for quite some time I start to wonder about this many fantastic and innovative new buildings in different places. A clear sign that remote healthcare is on the rise. The quality of life is already or will be augmented – like here in Orkney.

This could attract a shift of people. There are always lovers of clean air and water. When connected to good health and education… I don’t think about a hype, I think about an ongoing reallocation of people. Like in the Swiss mountains. There seems to a shift of +14% people to the mountains, for the time being in cities/city-like areas.

However – I am convinced that the development of these places is connected amongst other things to one key: modern healthcare.

Very impressive – my full respect for your engagement in Kirkwall and the Orkney islands. What a bright complement to the NHS.

Maurice Codourey

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