The National Treatment Centre-Highland opened its doors to patients in April 2023. At a cost of £48 million this represented a significant investment by the Scottish Government for the provision of modern eyecare for the north of Scotland. The facility is shared with elective orthopaedic arthroplasty, hand, foot and ankle surgery cases. There are 24 single-bedded rooms, all with en suite facilities and three of these are allocated to ophthalmology services.
In contrast to other existing and planned treatment centres, the entire Eye Department has relocated to the new site, on the Inverness campus, which is owned by Highlands and Islands Enterprise. This is a short 10-minute walk from the main Raigmore Hospital for the Highlands. All stakeholders were involved in the design of the building which has resulted in a spacious, airy and bright facility. Patient flows are more efficient and the waiting areas no longer feel compressed. The feedback from all users is overwhelmingly positive.
There are three ophthalmic theatres (one is shared with orthopaedics two days in the week), and the whole building is equipped to the highest possible standards. The laser theatre has a Leica microscope with built-in OCT. In the Outpatient Department, in addition to all of the standard lasers, we are proud to offer patients selective laser trabeculoplasty using a Belkin automated non-contact device. Patients for the glaucoma monitoring service and the virtual macular service are able to follow purpose-designed flows that are assisting in reducing waiting times backlogs.
There has been successful recruitment for non-medical staff, and there is an enthusiastic team who have been trained to the top of their licence. Orthoptists assist during strabismus surgery. Optometrists are involved in the listing of cataract patients, managing glaucoma, cornea and macula patients and increasingly perform some laser procedures. The nurses carry out all of the intravitreal injections in two IVT rooms, and some are being trained in minor operations.
Reform of our on-call system makes NHS Highland a very attractive place for medical staff, and there are still opportunities for surgeons wanting to relocate to a beautiful part of the world with an excellent quality of life. Inverness has good schools, transport links, access to amazing outdoor activities and great air quality. Look out for upcoming roles on the NHS Scotland JobTrain website (https://apply.jobs.scot.nhs.uk) and we look forward to seeing you soon!