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New funding could enable Insch War Memorial Hospital to reopen

By Kyle Ritchie

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Hopes have been kindled that a mothballed north-east hospital could reopen if Scottish Government NHS funding arrives soon.

Insch War Memorial Hospital's minor injury unit and inpatient ward closed in 2020, to allow NHS nurses to work in larger facilities during the pandemic.

However, Aberdeenshire Health and Social Care Partnership has been unable to reopen the unit since, citing operational and staffing costs.

Ahead of the 2021 Scottish Parliament election, former First Minister Nicola Sturgeon promised it would receive funding to fully reopen.

New funding could allow Insch War Memorial Hospital to reopen.
New funding could allow Insch War Memorial Hospital to reopen.

Two years of relative silence on this matter has frustrated the community.

But at Holyrood today, health secretary Michael Matheson confirmed an extra £100 million is being directed to health boards in revenue funding – opening the door to local health chiefs applying.

This was welcomed by Aberdeenshire West MSP Alexander Burnett, who asked Mr Matheson whether “a small percentage” would extend to a new modular unit with 12 beds.

While Mr Matheson said it could not be used for capital projects, he confirmed the £100 million would be revenue funding – money that health boards can use to pay staff and cut waiting lists.

He added: "Any decision on the future use of Insch War Memorial Hospital will be decided between NHS Grampian and local stakeholders.

"Once a decision is made, the Scottish Government can consider what support can be offered.

"I met with the community on May 3 this year and encouraged the group to remain engaged with the health and social care partnership as it develops its plans for local services."

Scottish Conservative Mr Burnett has campaigned for the unit’s return since 2020.

He argued reopening the hospital would “significantly reduce pressures on other local health services” and “allow beds to be freed up at the ARI and in turn allow overdue operations to take place.”

His questions followed a protest by Insch campaigners at the SNP party conference in Aberdeen last week.

Mr Burnett said later: “Reopening Insch War Memorial Hospital was possibly the SNP’s biggest manifesto promise for the north-east in the 2021 election.

“It has taken two years for some kind of money to arrive, and the community are now looking for the Scottish Government to pay up.

“Staffing was the big obstacle for Aberdeenshire hospitals at the outset of Covid-19, and now that obstacle should be removed.

“I’m confident some updates to the facility can be achieved by the community and health partnership, now this money looks to be unlocked.”

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