Hospice redevelopment receives welcome boost with the announcement that it will be VAT exempt

2 July 2013

The redevelopment of the Highland Hospice In Patient Unit in Inverness has received a fantastic boost with the announcement that the project will be VAT exempt.

Local MP Danny Alexander has worked closely with Highland Hospice to ensure our plans met the stringent criteria for VAT exemption, and thanks to his support the Hospice will save in excess of £500,000 on the cost of the build.

Mr Alexander said:

\"This is very welcome news for the Hospice which deserves our congratulations for its continued determination to create the best possible environment and support for those in its care.

\"It’s difficult to express just how important these facilities could be for families in the Highlands. None of us know if we will ever need them, but all of us hope that they will be there if we do.

\"It has been a privilege for me to be able to help, in a small way, such a fantastic project.'

The redevelopment project will see the current In Patient Unit on Bishops Road, Inverness, demolished and the new unit build in its place. The new building will provide a modern, bright and airy In Patient Unit, along with redesigned Day Hospice spaces, a quiet sanctuary room and increased physiotherapy, occupational therapy and bereavement support facilities.

There will be nine single en-suite bedrooms and one shared room which will improve patient choice and increase the levels of privacy and dignity offered. There will also be much needed family accommodation for loved ones, and the space and technological infrastructure needed to support the growth of a Virtual Hospice which aims to extend the reach of Highland Hospice across the rural area through advances in communications technology.

The current In Patient Unit admitted its first patient 25 years ago and at that time exceeded palliative care standards. However, in the past quarter of a century, patient needs and healthcare standards have changed and at half the size suggested by current guidelines, the unit no longer meets requirement.  It is made up of four single bedrooms and two shared bedrooms. Although the nursing and medical team work hard to maintain a high standard of care, this is increasingly despite the building and not because of it.

The redevelopment will now cost in the region of £6.5 million. Highland Hospice have committed £2 million of these costs from reserves which have been built up over a number of years for this purpose, and a capital appeal is now underway to raise the remaining funds required to complete the project. Highland Hospice is currently in a quieter phase of the appeal, applying to trusts and private donors for support, and in April 2014 a more public phase of the appeal will be launched.

Kenny Steele, Highland Hospice Chief Executive, said of the latest development in the rebuild project:

“This is a fantastic boost to the project. The Hospice has committed £2 million of its own reserves and we had assumed we would need to raise a further £5 million through a capital appeal to complete the project. Now, with no VAT to pay for the rebuilding of the In Patient Unit, we will be saving at least half a million pounds and possibly more. We are extremely grateful for all of Mr Alexander's support in helping us work with HMRC to achieve this result.”

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