Balfour Hospital

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NHS Orkney
Location Kirkwall, Orkney, Scotland
Care system NHS Scotland
Hospital type Rural general
Affiliated university University of Aberdeen
Robert Gordon University
Emergency department Yes
Beds 48
Founded 1845
Website NHS Orkney: Balfour Hospital
Lists Hospitals in Scotland

Balfour Hospital is a rural general hospital in Kirkwall, run by NHS Orkney. It is the main hospital in Orkney.


Balfour Hospital has 48 beds in six wards, a day hospital and a day-surgery unit.[1]

There are currently approximately 136 births a year at the maternity unit and it has full accreditation as baby friendly, since July 2014.[2]


Orkney's first hospital was established in October 1845, in what is today the Kirkwall West End Hotel. In 1836, John Balfour of Trenabie set up a charitable trust for the founding of a hospital with the interest from £20,000 worth of Mexican government bonds. In 1845, the trustees of the hospital fund bought the house from local merchant, James Shearer, together with the two large gardens and blacksmith's shop on the west side of the street, for £450. At first known simply as the Orkney Hospital, it became the Balfour Hospital in 1853, in recognition of the contribution of the Balfour family, a name which continues at Orkney's present hospital in New Scapa Road, Kirkwall. The West End served as a hospital well into the 20th century, its replacement opening in 1927.[3]

A Macmillan House ward for cancer patients opened in Balfour Hospital in March 2000, its predecessor, at the Eastbank Hospital, had opened in 1993.[4]

The Groundwater Suite opened in 2011, bringing a new hospital operating theatre, a sterilising department, and new x-ray unit to the Balfour hospital. This £5 million development was named after a distinguished former surgeon from the islands.[5]

Following this the configuration of the ward area was reorganised.[6]

Hospital mortality figures are the worst in Scotland with a higher than expected death rate in 23 of the last 27 quarters, resulting in 128 more deaths than expected, but the small numbers involved mean that little reliance can be placed on the figures.[7]


  1. ^ "Services: Balfour Hospital". NHS Orkney. Retrieved 3 January 2015. 
  2. ^ "Baby Friendly accreditation: Balfour Hospital". Baby Friendly Initiative. Retrieved 2 January 2015. 
  3. ^ "West End Hotel, Kirkwall". archived from Archived from the original on 24 September 2003. Retrieved 2008-08-02. 
  4. ^ "Orkney News Archive". Orcadian. 6–12 January 2003. Archived from the original on 3 March 2003. Retrieved 2008-08-02. 
  5. ^ "First Minister Opens New Balfour Hospital Development" (Press release). Scottish Government. 2 March 2001. Archived from the original on 7 February 2013. Retrieved 3 May 2014. 
  6. ^ "Balfour Hospital". NHS Orkney. Archived from the original on 31 May 2008. Retrieved 2008-08-02. 
  7. ^ "Study reveals 538 'excess deaths' at Scotland's worst hospital". Scottish Express. 7 December 2013. Retrieved 8 December 2013. 

Coordinates: 58°58′32″N 2°57′52″W / 58.9756°N 2.9644°W / 58.9756; -2.9644