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Aberdeen's new national treatment centre delayed by NHS budget crisis

By David Porter

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Plans for a new NHS national treatment centre in Aberdeen which is designed to help cut patient waiting lists has now been put on hold.

The update was made to staff on Tuesday and came after health boards across Scotland were told to halt new construction projects as a direct result of budgetary pressures.

Work on the new £130m national treatment centre for Grampian which also included an MRI suite for Dr Gray’s Hospital in Elgin, will be halted.

Plans to refurbish the mental health ward at Dr Gray’s, which were scheduled to take place at the same time as the MRI suite construction, will also now be reviewed.

The centre would focus on day surgeries, specialist clinics and diagnostics, including CT scans and X-rays with construction originally expected to begin in March 2025.

The update from NHS Grampian stated: “Clearly, this news is hugely disappointing, not only for those who have worked on this project, but for the wider organisation and for everyone living and working in Grampian.

“We want to emphasise our ongoing commitment to these projects, and we hope both will proceed at some point in the future.

“It is worth noting any capital funds we receive will be directed towards maintenance of the existing estate and essential equipment replacement programmes.”

MSP Tess Whyte
MSP Tess Whyte

Scottish Conservative North East MSP and deputy health spokesperson Tess White said: “The decision to shelve work on Grampian’s £130 million national treatment centre is devastating news for patients in the North East.

“Humza Yousaf promised to build this treatment centre in Aberdeen to reduce waiting times as part of his recovery plan but this announcement, coupled with halting proposals for an MRI facility at Dr Gray's, will be catastrophic for healthcare across the region.

“NHS Grampian is horrendously overstretched due to the Scottish Government’s woeful workforce planning and now the SNP’s financial mismanagement is leading to vital building projects being stopped.

“Not only will this impact patients, but it’s a hammer blow to staff who are absolutely exhausted and are leaving the NHS because they have no confidence in the workload improving.

“I will be asking the First Minister and the health secretary to come clean on what they are planning to do to rectify this situation at a time when they have received record UK Government block funding.”

Moray MSP Richard Lochhead says that he is "hugely disappointed" that the projects have been paused adding that he is seeking an urgent meeting with NHS Grampian's interim chief executive.

Mr Lochhead said: "The whole public sector is Scotland is facing huge challenges and difficult decisions in terms of infrastructure projects due to the huge cuts to the Scottish Government’s capital budget by the Conservative UK Government.

“The Scottish Fiscal Commission has been clear that the capital budget for Scotland has been cut by 4 per cent in real terms.

"This comes at the same time of incredibly high inflation due to the economic mismanagement by the UK Government.

“I don’t understand why Moray’s Tory MP is not shouting from the rooftops for his UK colleagues to increase Scotland’s capital budget rather than cutting it.

“As local MSP, I have long campaigned for NHS Grampian to invest in facilities at Dr Gray’s, including leading the campaign for an MRI scanner for Moray which is now in the pipeline.

“I’m therefore hugely disappointed that these projects are now on pause even if it’s only for a short time and I am seeking an urgent meeting with NHS Grampian’s interim chief executive."

Moray MP Douglas Ross has described the news as a "hammer blow" for patients in the area and has laid the blame with the Scottish Government.

He claims Scotland's finances have been "grossly mismanaged" and has called on the government and NHS Grampian to be "fully upfront" on when work will restart on the projects.

Mr Ross said: "All too often on the SNP’s watch, it is rural and remote healthcare services who get hit hardest and this latest major setback reaffirms that.

“This announcement will cause huge worry among patients across the area.

"The onus is on SNP ministers and NHS Grampian to be fully upfront as to when they expect work on this MRI Suite to restart and when the review into refurbishment plans for the mental health ward to be completed.

“There is simply no excuse for keeping people in the dark following this shocking announcement.”

The news comes after it was revealed that hundreds of medical records were destroyed by a sewage leak at Dr Gray's last week.

A major revamp of the maternity unit at Raigmore Hospital in Inverness is also being paused as well as a replacement to Belford Hospital in Fort William, and plans to refurbish Caithness General Hospital in Wick.

A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: “As a result of the cut in our capital budget, a revised pipeline of infrastructure investment will be published in spring 2024.

“All due consideration will be given to what projects can be included within that revised plan to ensure it is affordable and deliverable.

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