PLANS to convert residential care homes into accommodation for trainee doctors have been given the go-ahead.
NHS Dumfries and Galloway applied to renovate five properties at Nithbank in order to create houses of multiple occupancy (HMO) for use by 24 trainee doctors who are part of the Scottish Graduate Entry Medicine (Scot GEM) programme, a four-year training course funded by the Scottish Government.
The development will offer 24 rooms, with a mixture of en suite and shared bathroom facilities, as well as communal living and cooking spaces.
There are 13 car parking slots shown in plans, but in correspondence it has been confirmed that there is ample available parking at an adjacent NHS site serving the sexual health and family planning clinic.
In a supporting letter, Nicoll Milne, asset and contract manager with NHSDG, wrote: “The trainee doctors course period is currently four years, however this is an ongoing process and we expect there to be a rolling program of trainees for the foreseeable future.
“In order to facilitate the conversion of the existing buildings into suitable HMO accommodation, we have engaged a professional team to support this project and arrange for a building warrant application to be lodged to ensure compliance with the building standards and as a natural consequence the requirements of an HMO.”
The buildings were previously used as care homes and were staffed and managed by NHS Dumfries and Galloway.
They feature individual rooms currently but are not up to current standards from either a building warrant or HMO license perspective. And a further letter, from head of estates and property Ian Bryden, to planners reads: “This accommodation will provide much needed student and junior doctors for the region.
“In addition, the proposal to repurpose and upgrade existing vacant NHS buildings located within the town is key in terms of providing appropriate accommodation for the student doctors.
“The buildings proposed to be HMOs have been vacant for a significant period.
“Most student doctors will be located at the DGRI.”
The plans were met with one objection – from a resident at nearby Carruthers Cottages – on the grounds that it is a very quiet area and existing residents are all over 70, and by bringing in 24 people it will ‘change the vibe’.
The person also commented that the site neighbors a primary school and would be better suited to families, or to help the delayed discharge problem at the hospital.
ABOVE: trainee doctors at DGRI