NHS Borders dementia bed cut 'a step in the right direction'
The number of acute dementia beds in the Scottish Borders is set to be cut by nearly half.
The Integrated Joint Board (IJB) - a partnership between NHS Borders and Scottish Borders Council - plans to treat more people in the community rather than in hospital.
It has approved plans to remove 12 of the region's 26 dementia beds.
Kelso councillor Tom Weatherston described the move as a "huge step in the right direction".
IJB chief officer Robert McCulloch-Graham said occupancy rates of its beds were running at less than 50%.
He added that services at the Cauldshiels ward in Borders General Hospital were "unfit for purpose".
"An opportunity has arisen to transform this service by closing the Cauldshiels ward and relocating patients to the homelier setting of Melburn Lodge," he said.
"The closure of Cauldshiels ward and the resetting of the model of care within Melburn Lodge will enable a significant improvement in quality of dementia care facilities, save significant annual revenue resources and avoid the need for substantial investment in the fabric of the Cauldshiels facility."
Closing Cauldshiels will save the board more than £800,000 but £338,000 of that money will be ring-fenced for five new specialist beds, should demand for beds increase unexpectedly.
Mr Weatherston said he welcomed the changes.
"This may appear controversial to some, but sometimes you've got to stand up and be counted, and I think we should be doing that, I certainly will," he said.
Malcolm Dickson, a non executive board member of NHS Borders, added: "I visited Cauldshiels recently, and saw the dedication of the staff there, but some of the staff there admit that it is the wrong place for some of those patients to be."
- Reporting by local democracy reporter Joseph Anderson