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Wildland company to help out with north health hub?

By Staff Reporter

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The company owned by the Danish landowner who has estates in the area, is prepared to help fund a new showpiece health hub in Sutherland.

Linda Munro
Linda Munro

Anders Povlsen's company Wildland Ltd is in discussions about securing Church of Scotland land at Tongue and is ready to provide additional money to realise the scheme beyond what has already been committed by NHS Highland and Highland Council.

The hub is to replace the two residential care homes in the area – Caladh Sona at Talmine and Sinclair Court at Melvich.

Representatives of Mr Povlsen’s company last week attended a private meeting in Bettyhill with community and NHS representatives to help find a solution to realising the long running proposed health hub scheme in Tongue, prompted by the re-design of health and adult social care services across Sutherland’s north coast.

Tim Kirkwood, chief executive of Wildland, said:”If it’s the right development, in the right place, we will support it and help with the additional funding. It is not a Wildland development, but we may be able to help make something everybody can be proud of.

“There is a potential for a win-win for everybody, including the council, the NHS and most importantly the community.

“We have made an approach to the Church of Scotland and I think they are supportive, though it’s early days. There are no red lights at this stage.”

Mr Kirkwood said the new hub – which could now include a medical centre as well as the nursing and care home – would be greater than what was envisaged in the original scheme.

Highland Council officials have already been warned that there will be outrage along the north coast if the long-awaited proposal for the original £1.6 million health hub at Tongue is dropped from the authority’s capital plan.

Councillors are due to decide their five-year spending priorities shortly and concern is mounting the hub may be shelved as it battles to keep within budget.

Ngaire Mingham, chairwoman of the Caladh Sona Action Group, who has been involved in the hub project since its outset, welcomed Wildland’s involvement.

She said: “They are a benevolent landowner who has done quite a lot for the community already. They are open to community engagement. I don’t think we can build what we would like on the current site. I think it is too constrained.”

In September, NHS Highland said the hub facility would consist of residential/nursing beds plus “step up/down beds”, respite and palliative care support.

It will also be the base for the integrated community health team and will include treatment/consultations rooms. The facilities are also designed to provide both and in and out of hours servicesusing advanced nursing practitioners.

The alternative site for the hub will offer residential and nursing care facilities, as well as a range of other services.

The site already earmarked for it is owned by the council and lies next to the medical practice and the Kyle Centre. But the possibility has arisen that it could be sited on church owned glebe land to the north of the village.

Councillor Linda Munro, who represents North, West and Central Sutherland, said: “There is an opportunity for something powerful and positive for posterity here. But it is not council led, nor NHS imposed. This is all about people power and, thanks to Wildland, getting something of a higher spec.”

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