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Insch Hospital: "That sounds like a politician's answer that its not going to reopen"

By David Porter

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MP for Gordon, Richard Thomson, has said that Aberdeenshire Health and Social Care Partnership need to move forward with a credible, community-based plan for the future of Insch Hospital.

The MP was commenting following a meeting with the Friends of Insch Hospital where he reiterated his support for the local campaign for a community healthcare facility in Insch.

Mr Thomson has previously met with Scottish Government Ministers who assured the local MP the pledge to support healthcare provision in Insch remains.

In a written response to the MP in May this year, Health Secretary Michael Matheson MSP stated: “We are still waiting for NHS Grampian to submit a proposal for the Scottish Government to review . . . the Scottish Government remain committed to supporting the HSCP and Health Board in delivering effective, efficient, safe and appropriate community services, that will benefit Insch and the wider community of central Aberdeenshire.”

Commenting, Gordon MP Richard Thomson said: “The Scottish Government is committing £10bn over the next decade to renewing and replacing healthcare facilities, whether that’s primary healthcare facilities or community-facing facilities like Insch Hospital.

“We can see some of that underway already with NHS Grampian in the £164m commitment going into the Baird and Anchor facilities currently being built in Aberdeen.

"So, there is a track record of NHS Grampian bidding-in to meet local needs and getting that support from the Scottish Government.

“Aberdeenshire Health and Social Care Partnership and NHS Grampian absolutely need to work with the local community, including the Friends of Insch Hospital who have a credible plan which they are willing to support financially, and take advantage of the facilities, goodwill and finance on offer to provide more community-facing health solutions, taking the pressure of both health services in Aberdeen and the families of patients who currently have to make the journey into the city.”

Pamela Milliken
Pamela Milliken

A different picture was however painted by Health and Social Care Scotland’s chief officer for Aberdeenshire, Pamela Milliken during a Holyrood committee on Tuesday morning(10:08am).

Aside from not being aware if Insch Hospital had previous to the pandemic, operated a Minor Injury Unit; (It was one of nine units in Aboyne, Banff, Huntly, Insch, Inverurie, Stonehaven, Turriff, Fraserburgh and Peterhead which were reviewed in 2018, with changes to operation being instigated at Inverurie and Insch at the start of the review period following public consultation events throughout the north-east), she told MSPs the hospital’s current set up is not suitable for the treatment of patients and that the campaign to have the facility upgraded is currently not viable.

North East Conservative MSP Tess White, who was on the committee questioned Ms Milliken on the closure: "The minor injury unit at Insch was closed in 2020 and has never reopened.

"We know the importance of minor injury units, so what are the obstacles in doing so and what is the time frame for delivering on the former First Minister's commitment?"

Ms Milliken said: "The physical infrastructure is not appropriate for in patient care, both in terms of the size of rooms etc. but also some of the other infrastructure.

"We are working closely with Friends of Insch to see what alternatives can be used in terms of that facility and also good community resources in the area.

“At the moment patients from that area travel to neighbouring community hospitals if they need a community hospital stay.

“I know every community would like to have their own local facilities, but in that particular environment it’s not possible to run in-patient services at the moment so we need to look at what we can do now to work with the community on what outreach or home based services such as our virtual community wards and other ways that we act proactively with people in their own homes and do that while we are looking at the potential for a business case, but we know capital is tight."

To which Tess Whyte replied: "That sounds like a politicians answer that its not going to reopen."

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