First Minister pledges backing to secure good hospital site
TESCO’S abandoned land in Fort William could become the new Belford hospital after Scotland’s First Minister pledged her support in securing a site, writes Emma Crichton.
During a visit to the Oban Times on Monday, Nicola Sturgeon said the government will make a decision on funding for a new hospital following a business plan from NHS Highland.
The Blar Mor land became available earlier this year when Tesco announced it wouldn’t be building a supermarket there. The site would provide easy access to both the town’s medical centre and police and ambulance stations, but plans to replace the 50-year- old hospital are not due to start for another four years at the earliest.
When asked if funding could be released earlier, Ms Sturgeon said she would help make sure the ‘opportunity of a good potential site isn’t lost’.
She said: ‘The NHS is in the early stages of putting together a business plan. For the government to make decisions about funding it we need to see the business plan first.
‘That will take its course, but at the moment there is willingness on the part of the government to see the Belford replaced on a good site and in fit-forpurpose accommodation. I can’t give guarantees and I can’t give timescales at the moment, but we will be willing to work with the health board locally to make sure the opportunity of a good potential site isn’t lost.’
For more on the First Minister’s visit to Oban, see pages four and five.
PLEDGE: Nicola Sturgeon wants to see Belford hospital replaced ‘on a good site and in fit-forpurpose accommodation’