Article in The Courier – by Graeme Strachan
From left, Nilima Puthu, Moira Robertson, Irene Gillies MBE, Dick Robertson, Grahame Lockhart, John McKenna, Gary Robertson and Frances Keats
Brechin Healthcare Group (BHG) has now received an ‘agreement in principle’ to take over the massive Brechin Infirmary site.
The community asset transfer request to NHS Tayside for the site has been validated subject to being able to put forward a “feasible and sustainable” business plan.
The aim is to develop a health and wellbeing hub for the community of Brechin, Edzell and the Glens, with “social prescribing” at its heart.
The infirmary was deemed surplus to requirements in February 2018.
BHG chairman Grahame Lockhart said: “The Community Empowerment (Scotland) Act 2015 offers us an exciting opportunity to take responsibility for our future health and wellbeing at a time of reduction in services.
“The health and wellbeing hub on the former Brechin Infirmary site will not only benefit our community but can be a template for other communities throughout Scotland and beyond.”
BHG now has six months in which to demonstrate that their business plan for the health and wellbeing hub at the infirmary site is feasible and sustainable.
During the six month period BHG will be working closely with NHS Tayside property department “to satisfy the requirements necessary before ownership of the infirmary site can be transferred to the group”.
In addition, Mr Lockhart said BHG will be engaging with the people in the community, community groups, care providers, the schools and other agencies to highlight the benefits the hub will bring to the whole community.
He said those benefits will include care and support for those with long-term conditions and those seeking volunteer and apprenticeship training.
“Also, at a time of real concern for the environment, BHG will look at a range of ways to reduce the carbon footprint of the site should the transfer of the Infirmary site be successful,” he said.
“This will include the use of local builders, energy efficient heating and lighting and locally produced food.”
The former nursing home at St Drostan’s which is also part of the group of buildings on the site has also just gone on the market.
Offers have been invited after the building was put up for sale by Angus Council which was described as being “suitable for alternative commercial use”.
Brechin Infirmary opened as a general voluntary hospital in 1869 before it was enlarged in the 1920s on the lines recommended by Florence Nightingale.