A Moray community is preparing itself to step in to safeguard a hospital building if the NHS decides to move out.
Forres Community Council has launched an initiative to examine future uses for the Leanchoil facility in the town.
But yesterday NHS Grampian stressed it was committed to continuing to operate the hospital in its current form with no plans to close it.
However, concerns have been raised about the future of the Victorian buildings following closures at the hospital in recent years.
Leanchoil was closed for nearly a year after an electrical fault was discovered in January 2011 and a similar issue caused a one-month closure in January 2016.
Forres councillor Claire Feaver said: “A very popular option would be for Leanchoil to be used for respite care or for helping people to rehabilitate after a spell in hospital if they are unable to immediately return home.
“At the moment too many people have to travel away from Forres for these services and that can make it difficult for friends and relatives to visit them.
“There may be other options for Leanchoil too, including a mixture of uses, and it is really good to know that the community council is seeking as wide a consultation process as possible.”
Leanchoil was built in 1892 and currently has nine beds for medical care, assessment and respite.
Several out-patient clinics are run from the building with a minor injury unit also on the site.
Graham Hilditch, chairman of Forres Community Council, believes it is prudent to make plan’s for the future of the hospital.
He said: “It is really important that the community comes together to find a solution that allows Leanchoil to continue to be a valuable local resource.”
Moray MP Douglas Ross added: “Members of my own family have benefited from care at Leanchoil and if NHS Grampian is no longer able to guarantee the future of the hospital then we have to look at other solutions to ensure that it remains a community facility.”