THE Red Cross guesthouse in Aberdeen used by Northern Island NHS patients and their families could close in late October due to financial pressure.
Accommodation at Claremont Place, with 18 double and family rooms, has been used for years by residents of the Northern Islands.
But the Red Cross confirmed this week that after “careful consideration” it had decided to continue closing the guesthouse, located 2.5 km from the Royal Infirmary in Aberdeen.
The charity admitted the guesthouse had been underutilized for years, although some locals claimed it was too expensive for families – with some budget hotels apparently being a cheaper option.
The Red Cross has confirmed that it will consult with volunteers and staff in the coming weeks, although it has already stopped taking reservations from November.
A British Red Cross spokesperson said: âAfter careful consideration we have made the decision to close the Red Cross guesthouse in Claremont Place, Aberdeen.
âThe guesthouse has been in operation for over thirty years and provides space for patients and their families when they attend Aberdeen hospitals. However, a long period of under-occupation means that it is financially impossible for us to continue with this service.
âRooms cost Â£ 50 per night and the occupancy rate over the past few years has fallen – this year to just 20%. The competitive prices of hotels and other accommodation providers in Aberdeen have undoubtedly contributed to this, but it also gives reassurance that there are other options available for those in need.
“Reservations are not taken beyond the end of October, which is the scheduled closing date subject to the outcome of our consultation with the staff concerned.”
NHS Shetland finance director Colin Marsland said the board of health “will consider any impact on patient travel” once the Red Cross consultation is over.
“We have been informed that the British Red Cross is currently undertaking a consultation with its staff regarding the future of its guest house in Aberdeen,” he said.
âThis process, we were told, runs until mid-October. Once the British Red Cross completes its formal process and releases the final outcome regarding the future of its guesthouse in Aberdeen, the board will consider any impact on patient travel.
Shetland MSP Beatrice Wishart said it was “very worrying news” for staff and families who use the “much needed service, often at very difficult times”.
“I understand that a final decision has not yet been made and I will examine the situation to offer all possible support,” she added.
Anne Anderson of Whalsay said the Red Cross home has been “nothing less than a boon to me and my family over the years.”
âIn very stressful times, they offer accommodation at very short notice, at inconvenient hours, with a competent and supportive back-up system from staff and customers,â she said.
âNot only do they welcome you, but they don’t kick you out.
“I sincerely hope that a rollback can be done until someone has time to investigate the ad, ask why the slowdown, expand access to the facility if necessary . “
The Red Cross claim that the facility has been underutilized has been countered by some in the islands on social media, however, who believe the guesthouse is not good value for money when it comes to reservations for several people.
Wish Thomson, of Lerwick, said she was sorry to learn of the impending closure, the guest house “has not been affordable for years”.
She said that while the establishment was comfortable for children, “when a mother and child are charged between Â£ 70-90 per night, and more if a grandparent joins, it is simply better to stay in a Travelodge or Premier Inn and get more comfortable beds for Â£ 25-45 for a family room â.
âWe would have continued to go to the Red Cross if it was affordable and comfortable family beds that match the price,â she said.
There is very little accommodation at some Aberdeen hospitals, but it is offered on a regular basis. emergency only for relatives of seriously ill patients who must stay near the the hospital or relatives who had to travel in a very short time.
Become a Shetland News supporter
News from Shetland asks its many readers to consider starting paying for their fix of the latest local news delivered straight to their PC, tablet or mobile phone.
Journalism comes at a price and because that price goes unpaid in today’s rapidly changing media world, most publishers – national and local – are struggling financially despite very healthy audience figures.
Most online publishers started charging for access to their websites, others took a different route. Shetland News currently has more than 500 supporters who all make small voluntary financial contributions. All funds are used to cover our costs and further improve the service.
Your contribution will ensure News from Shetland can: –
- Bring you the headlines as they happen;
- Remain editorial independent;
- Give a voice to the community;
- Further increase site traffic;
- Research and post more in-depth news, including more Shetland Lives features.
If you enjoy what we do and are very committed to impartial local journalism, then please become a supporter of News from Shetland by making a one-time payment or a monthly subscription.
Support us from Â£ 3 per month – it only takes a minute to sign up. Thank you.