Scotland’s national brain injury unit opens its new doors on the Royal Edinburgh Campus, Morningside.

The first patients to be cared for in the purpose built Robert Fergusson national brain injury unit transferred into their improved surroundings earlier this month.

Twenty five years ago, the Robert Fergusson Unit, a specialist clinic for the treatment of patients from across Scotland, suffering psychiatric or behavioural problems after a head injury was set up to create somewhere suitable for this specialist care.

A quarter of a century later staff and patients have moved into their new building offering a modern healthcare environment designed to meet their needs. The multidisciplinary team based in the unit includes: nursing staff; neuropsychiatrists; speech and language therapy; physiotherapy; occupational therapy; art therapy and social work. No two patients are the same and the team work together to create bespoke care plans around each patient.
After working in the old unit for sixteen years, Michele Yeaman, Senior Charge Nurse, NHS Lothian said: “It is wonderful to be in our new, fit for purpose unit. Transferring our patients and the team from the old, dated wards to their new environment has been met with excitement and apprehension.

“Staff are working together to find new ways to deliver continuous care during this period of transition. Our patients are already starting to settle into their new routines and space.”

Professor Alex McMahon, Executive Director, Nursing, Midwifery and AHP's, Executive Lead REAS and Prison Healthcare, NHS Lothian, said: “Throughout this process we have involved, listened to and taken on board the views of patients, staff, families and the public and we are confident that these new facilities will provide a therapeutic environment for our dedicated staff to deliver high quality care.

“The redevelopment of the Royal Edinburgh Hospital is a major commitment from NHS Lothian to improving mental health services and we are looking forward to welcoming patients and staff into our adult and older people’s mental health wards over the coming months.”

The National Brain Injury Unit has been built as part of the £48 million first phase of the Royal Edinburgh Campus redevelopment which was handed over to NHS Lothian on time and on budget by development partner Hub South East Scotland and main contractor Morrison Construction in December 2016.

Phase one redevelopment includes new accommodation for the adult acute mental health inpatient service, older people’s mental health assessment, Intensive Psychiatric Care Service (IPCU) and the new Robert Fergusson national brain injury unit.

Further redevelopment of the campus is planned to be undertaken in phased stages over the next 7 years. In November 2014, the Scottish Government committed a further £120 million for future phases of the campus redevelopment.

Phase Two work is likely to include, but is not limited to, a new Integrated Rehabilitation Facility, a newly refurbished MacKinnon House and a new Facilities Management Centre. This second phase is again being delivered by Hub South East and its contractor, Morrison Construction, and work on this is being progressed this year.

More information on the Robert Fergusson Unit
The Robert Fergusson Unit is the Scottish Neurobehavioural Rehabilitation Service national inpatient unit. It principally provides inpatient rehabilitation for people whose symptoms after acquired brain injury include severe behavioral disturbance. A smaller number of patients have progressive neurological problems e.g. Huntington’s disease. Some patients have complex physical healthcare needs.

Robert Fergusson (5 September 1750 -16 October 1774) was an Edinburgh poet who, despite a short life, had a highly influential career, especially through its impact on Robert Burns.

The hospital was founded after the premature and tragic death of Robert Fergusson, at the age of 24. Fergusson is known to have suffered from depression, but it was in fact a serious head injury, sustained after a fall down a flight of stairs, that led to the poet being deemed 'insensible.'

When his mother could no longer look after him, Fergusson was incarcerated in the city's Bedlam madhouse, attached to a workhouse, and he died there in October 1774, almost certainly as a result of his head injury.
Fergusson's doctor, Andrew Duncan, was moved by the poet's death, and he resolved to set up a hospital in the city which would look after the mentally ill with greater dignity and respect. Duncan launched a fundraising appeal in 1792, and eventually, in 1806, Parliament granted £2000 from estates forfeited during the Jacobite rebellion in 1745.