The elderly and disabled will soon be able to have dental care delivered in their own homes, following upgrades at the Uist and Barra Hospital.

A proposed four-chair dental suite will operate from the hospital site in Balivanich, which will allow the service to be co-located with other clinical services.

It is expected that the new arrangements will come into place within the next 18 months.

The new service will focus on reducing the existing waiting times for registration, while continuing to provide high quality dental care. 

The service will also operate outreach provision, to provide dental care to frail older people and disabled people in their own homes or in a local environment.

By deploying new mobile dental chairs, the service will become more flexible and can be set up safely and effectively in a variety of environments, from community centres to care homes. 

Work will be undertaken over the next few months to develop an implementation plan, which will describe the physical changes to the hospital and will describe how the new service will operate.

In the meantime, the existing dental clinics at Lochmaddy and Liniclete will continue to operate, meaning people should continue to use the service in the same way.

The wider redesign of the hospital site is part of an ambitious longer-term plan to deliver sustainable health and social care services for the Uist community. In addition to bringing the dental team on site, it is also planned to bring the Benbecula Medical Practice and Scottish Ambulance Service into the hub as well. Over the next few months, a bid will be worked up in support of these proposals.

None of the existing clinical services provided within the hospital will change. While there will be a need to reconfigure the physical space, all of the essential and existing medical services will continue to be provided, including emergency medicine. A team of local clinicians and managers is currently working on the redesign proposals, to ensure that patients’ needs are fully met.

NHS Western Isles will continue to keep members of the public informed as these new arrangements come into place.