Uncertain future for Ellon and Banchory health centre plans
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Conservative MSPs Douglas Lumsden and Alexander Burnett have voiced concerns that plans for a new Ellon Health Centre and health hub in Banchory have been “pushed further back in the queue” following a freeze on NHS projects.
The North East MSPs said residents were being “treated like second class citizens” after NHS Grampian said a business case hasn’t been produced for either of the projects as it has yet to receive funding from the Scottish Government.
The concern follows an order last week for health boards to halt new construction projects which include a new NHS national treatment centre in Aberdeen which is designed to cut patient waiting lists.
Mr Lumsden wrote to NHS Grampian amid fears the project for the old Ellon Academy site would be stopped after the Scottish Government told health boards to freeze spending on capital projects.
But NHS Grampian said both Ellon and a proposed new health centre in Banchory hadn’t reached that stage yet, with no funding set aside.
The latest announcement has been described as a “absolute disgrace” after the former Ellon Academy was demolished to make way for the planned health hub, designed to ease pressure on staff due to the town’s rising population.
The plans would have the most up-to-date space and technical standards for GP practices and services. It would also include scope to allow for 50% expansion space should NHS Grampian need to expand to meet the demands of an increasing population.
Scottish Conservative North East MSP Douglas Lumsden said: “It’s disgraceful that plans have been pushed further back in the queue for a new health centre in Ellon – four years after the proposals were approved.
“The old Ellon Academy site has been demolished for several years and is sitting idle waiting for the new health hub to be built.
“Instead, Ellon residents have been left in limbo and have been treated like second-class citizens by this SNP Government who have yet to come up with funding to progress the move.
“The current medical practice is crumbling and not fit for purpose for the 21st century at a time when the town’s population continues to grow rapidly which is why it’s unacceptable that these delays have occurred.”
On Banchory, Scottish Conservative MSP for Aberdeenshire West, Alexander Burnett, added: “This revelation is extremely disappointing for Banchory and I have written to both NHS Grampian and the Scottish Government to ask why progress has seemingly halted on a new health hub for the town.
“Residents will rightly feel let down after being told in 2019 that NHS Grampian was hoping to secure Scottish Government funding for a new health and social care facility.
“Five years on, the community has seen very little progress on a new facility that would offer a range of services under one roof and deliver a number of health benefits to our growing population.
“Once again, we are seeing the Scottish Government abandon rural healthcare and I will continue to push SNP ministers to provide the much-needed funding to make these plans a reality.”
Scottish Conservative candidate for Gordon and Buchan, Harriet Cross said: “Ellon residents have waited far too long for a new health centre and have been betrayed by the SNP Government whose refusal to award funding, even for a business case, shows they don’t care about rural health provision.
“The town has been left with a huge space which is sitting empty while the current medical practice is left to deal with the intolerable pressures of managing a growing list of patients.
“I have pledged to push the SNP Government to release this funding to allow NHS Grampian to build a health centre which is fit for purpose and can sufficiently meet the needs of patients.”
Scottish Conservative councillor for Ellon, Gillian Owen, added: “The people of Ellon desperately need a modern, state-of-the-art facility to take on the medical issues faced by residents.
“Aberdeenshire Council approved the proposals and made the land available but to now learn that funding hasn’t even been allocated to NHS Grampian is a huge blow for our town.
“This shameful decision from the SNP Government just adds to the fury that Ellon residents already have with how this has been handled over the years.”
An NHS Grampian spokeswoman said: “We have purchased land in Ellon for a new health centre and identified a site in Banchory for a new health centre there.
“However, there has never been any confirmation of funding from Scottish Government for these projects and as such we have not further progressed the business cases for either of them.
“This was the case prior to the Scottish Government advice to pause new capital projects.
“We realise the need to replace both these centres and share the disappointment of the local community at not being able to move forward with this work.”