Crumhaugh kitchens on chopping board

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THE health board has confirmed that it is considering the closure of the kitchens at Crumhaugh House, and transferring the town’s entire catering service to the Borders General Hospital.

Staff at Crumhaugh House currently cook the meals for their own patients, as well as for Hawick Community Hospital, and residents at Frank Scott Court and Teviot Court. But the proposal announced by NHS Borders would spell the end of a local service – with all food being transported from Melrose by van.

Jane Davidson, NHS Borders’ chief operating officer, told the Hawick News: “As part of our ongoing review of all services across the Borders, we are giving thought to our catering service. Early consideration is being given to an option to expand the catering department at the BGH to cover the Hawick area.”

Although the health board has also confirmed that seven staff currently employed at Crumhaugh House would be transferred to the Borders General Hospital, local councillor Davie Paterson says the plan casts further doubt on the future of the Crumhaugh Road facility.

He said: “I’m disappointed that the Health Board are considering moving the cooking facilities from Crumhaugh House and deploying staff to Melrose. I am also concerned that after months of denial that this facility will not close, this will only heighten elderly people’s fears that closure may be imminent.”

According to NHS Borders the transporting of food by van to Hawick has already been tested to ensure temperatures and quality are maintained, and says a similar operation in Kelso has been successful for the last ten years. However, local member George Turnbull has questioned the viability of such a move for Hawick, commenting: “With fuel and other related transport costs, plus drivers wages, it will be interesting to see what the NHS are projecting as savings, and this will have to be closely interrogated.”

He added: “Like schools, you cannot beat having meals cooked on the premises.”

But chief operating officer Jane Davidson commented: “The benefits of this move would include improving our quality control and the centralising and standardising of our processes would improve service efficiency and sustainability.”