Major service change reports

Major service change reports

The guidance followed in publishing this report has since been superseded by the Planning with People guidance

NHS Highland's consultation on proposals to redesign health and social care services in Caithness

This report sets out our assessment of whether NHS Highland's engagement and consultation process for proposals to redesign health and social care services in Caithness followed Scottish Government guidance, which requires that NHS boards seek, listen to and act on the views of potentially affected people and communities when proposing changes to services.

Based on the evidence outlined in this report, our view is that NHS Highland has followed the national guidance set out by the Scottish Government.

The engagement process and the range of consultation activities undertaken by NHS Highland enabled local people to be informed about and give their views on the proposals to develop a care hub in Thurso and Wick and refurbish the Caithness General Hospital. NHS Highland demonstrated that it was listening and responding to views and suggestions expressed during the process and adapted its communication and engagement plans in response.

A report on NHS Highland’s consultation on proposals to redesign health and social care service in Caithness
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File type: pdf
File size: 253 KB
Publication date: January 2019

During the consultation NHS Highland stressed that no decisions about the proposals had been made at this stage and that all feedback would be taken into consideration.

Should NHS Highland decide to include the relocation of GP practices as part of the care hub development, further engagement with potentially affected patients would be required.


We recommend that, as part of its decision-making process on the proposed model, NHS Highland should clearly communicate the following:

  • How outstanding concerns or questions raised during the consultation have or will be, addressed in the consultation report. This should include concerns relating to access and parking and provide information about timescales and how people can be involved with addressing any related issues in the future.
  • The services that will be located in the proposed Wick and Thurso care hubs, including details about the number of beds that will be available at each of the facilities and what the types of services they will be used for.
  • How people’s views have contributed towards any recommendations for future services and how alternative models and proposals put forward during the consultation have been considered.
  • What are the next steps in the business case process following the NHS Highland Board meeting on 29 January 2019. This should include timescales and details of opportunities for involvement.

If the proposals are approved, we recommend that NHS Highland should:

  1. communicate the process that it will use for making decisions relating to the future location of the care hub in Wick, any potential relocation of GP practices (Wick and Thurso) and changes to bed numbers. This should include an updated equalities impact assessment and details of further engagement plans, detailing opportunities for involvement in this process.
  2. engage with people who will be directly affected by the changes (patients, family, carers and staff), to ensure that their views are understood and can be fully taken into account when progressing plans and implementing changes to future services, and
  3. provide regular communication on the outcomes of this further work and keep people informed of progress and timescales for the implementation of the proposals.
Last Updated: 15 November 2021