A full time extra operating theatre will be built as part of a major multimillion-pound overhaul of the north’s flagship hospital.
NHS Highland’s health board agreed today to install a 10th theatre as part of a modernisation programme at Raigmore Hospital in Inverness.
Linda Kirkwood, interim director of operations at Raigmore, said this would make the Inverness hospital “more efficient in the long term”.
The health board yesterday agreed a £26million plan to refurbish the 30-year-old hospital building.
This will include reorganising important wards to provide better patients care.
Among the wards which will be renovated are the hospital’s intensive care unit and the high dependency unit, which the report put before the board yesterday describes as “lagging”.
The hospital’s children’s ward will also be relocated as part of the plans.
The report outlines a number of “deficiencies” in existing wards and clinical facilities in the Raigmore tower block.
NHS Highland’s head of estates Eric Green told the meeting that he had studied similar projects across Scotland when developing plans for the Raigmore refit.
One of the options which was ruled out was the creation of a barn theatre, which would have involved three or four operating tables in one large room.
This system is already widely used in England.
NHS Highland also hope to resolve ongoing issues with fire compartments in areas used for patients.
Ms Kirkwood said: “The degree of clinical support for this proposal is unprecedented.
“The redevelopment of the operating theatres allows us to become more efficient which will benefit our patients.”
Following the board’s approval, the report will now be sent to the Scottish Government, which the board hopes will provide £26million of funding for the plans.
Finance director Nick Kenton stressed that the redevelopment would not impact on NHS Highland’s budget.
It is hoped that the project could start as early as May next year, with completion of the whole plan two years later in 2017.
NHS Highland chairman Garry Coutts said: “This has been a very important process and it is fantastic to hear of the clinical support behind the project.”