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Moray MP Douglas Ross calls for urgent action on new health centre for Keith


By Lorna Thompson

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MORAY'S MP has called on the Scottish Government to provide the funding needed to ensure that Keith gets its long-overdue new health centre and hospital.

Conservative Douglas Ross issued the call on receiving a response from NHS Grampian after he wrote to the health board again about the long-awaited project.

Mr Ross was accompanied by Dr Sandesh Gulhane MSP, Scottish Conservative Shadow Cabinet Secretary for Health, for a tour of Keith Health Centre and the adjacent Turner Memorial Hospital back in November.

They met GPs, the practice manager and Keith Health Centre Patient Participation Group chairperson Leon Stelmach to discuss the pressing need for facilities fit for the 21st century.

In a reply to Mr Ross, Professor Caroline Hiscox, NHS Grampian chief executive, wrote: "To date, there has been no funding allocated by the Scottish Government for Keith or, indeed, any of Grampian's top primary care premises priorities for redevelopment."

Work had been under way to develop a strategic model prior to the Covid-19 pandemic. The project has only recently restarted following the pandemic interruption, but "in the context of the massive issues that still encumber health and social care as a consequence of Covid-19".

(From left) Scottish Conservative Shadow Cabinet Secretary for Health Dr Sandesh Gulhane MSP, Moray MP Douglas Ross, and Leon Stelmach, chair of the Keith Health Centre Patient Participation Group, at Keith's hospital and health centre in November. Picture: Daniel Forsyth.
(From left) Scottish Conservative Shadow Cabinet Secretary for Health Dr Sandesh Gulhane MSP, Moray MP Douglas Ross, and Leon Stelmach, chair of the Keith Health Centre Patient Participation Group, at Keith's hospital and health centre in November. Picture: Daniel Forsyth.

Prof Hiscox outlined the current situation, saying: "An external company was commissioned to ascertain the bed capacity needed, considering additional services such as Discharge to Assess; Hospital at Home; and then population demographics.

"This work is in progress, and we are looking to move onto compiling Initial Agreement, which will be, essentially, an overarching strategic document outlining the model redesign and how the Keith facility has a crucial place in this."

Mr Ross urged the health board to submit the Initial Assessment as soon as possible and for the Scottish Government to recognise that funding was urgently needed to progress the vital project for Keith.

He said the situation was "yet another example of the SNP Scottish Government ignoring the needs of people living in the north of Scotland".

He added: "The people of Keith and the surrounding area deserve modern health facilities and I wrote to NHS Grampian urging them to complete and submit an Initial Assessment, as nothing can happen until that is done.

"We have been waiting years for this project to be taken to the next level and I want to see action from the health board and the Scottish Government to deliver for the area.

"The reply from NHS Grampian shows that new medical facilities for Keith were highlighted to the Scottish Government as a key priority that required funding, but there has been no money from the SNP administration for this or any of the other top priorities for primary care identified as urgent by NHS Grampian."

He added: "They need to accelerate these plans and provide the funding for these new facilities to give the people of Keith and the surrounding area the healthcare facilities they deserve."


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