Peo­ple power paves way for surgery

The Oban Times - - NEWS - MON­ICA GIB­SON mgib­son@oban­

A COM­MU­NITY com­pany in Fort Au­gus­tus has raised more than £600,000 to re­place a med­i­cal cen­tre which was de­stroyed by fire.

Fort Au­gus­tus and Glen­moris­ton Com­mu­nity Com­pany (FAGCC) has been work­ing tire­lessly to raise money to re­build the med­i­cal cen­tre on the Cale­do­nian Canal fol­low­ing a dev­as­tat­ing blaze on Oc­to­ber 25 2015.

Af­ter the fire, NHS High­land said it did not have sufficient funds to re­place the cen­tre, but could po­ten­tially pay a lease on a build­ing.

FAGCC is now seek­ing to buy and re­de­velop the site hav­ing raised £630,000 of the re­quired £680,000 for con­struc­tion of the new cen­tre.

The money has been raised by FAGCC, with the bulk of the fund­ing be­ing do­nated from a com­mu­nity ben­e­fit scheme run by Flack Re­new­ables and the SSE Glen­dow Hy­dro scheme. A to­tal of £25,000 is be­lieved to have been pledged by GPs from the prac­tice and Glen­garry Trust has do­nated £10,000.

The most re­cent to­tal was reached af­ter a grant of £98,724 from the Scot­tish Land Fund, which is funded by the Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment, was con­firmed last Thurs­day.

With the tar­get amount in sight, FAGCC has held a num­ber of drop-in ses­sions in Fort Au­gus­tus and In­ver­moris­ton to gauge pub­lic opin­ion on ser­vices for the cen­tre, which has ap­prox­i­mately 1,400 reg­is­tered pa­tients in­clud­ing chil­dren.

Af­ter analysing the sur­veys, FAGCC re­ported that den­tistry and op­ti­cal ser­vices were highlighted as be­ing ex­tremely im­por­tant and sought af­ter.

A com­pany spokesper­son said: ‘We also sought the views from a num­ber of groups in the vil­lage af­ter it came to our at­ten­tion that peo­ple did not at­tend [the drop-in ses­sions] as they had given the project its bless­ing at the ini­tial meet­ing.’

GPs based in Fort Au­gus­tus have been work­ing out of tem- po­rary ac­com­mo­da­tion at the vil­lage’s Telford Cen­tre since the fire.

Lo­cal MSP for Skye, Lochaber and Bade­noch, Kate Forbes, shared her thoughts on what the ef­forts of the com­pany could do for the area but recog­nised more needs to be done to help.

She said: ‘I com­mend Fort Au­gus­tus and Glen­moris­ton Com­mu­nity Com­pany for its vi­sion and en­tre­pre­neur­ial spirit in se­cur­ing fu­ture med­i­cal ser­vices within the vil­lage.

‘Com­mu­nity own­er­ship like this em­pow­ers and trans­forms High­land and is­land com­mu­ni­ties and the award from the Scot­tish Land Fund demon­strates just how se­ri­ously the Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment takes com­mu­nity em­pow­er­ment.

‘In the com­mu­nity con­sul­ta­tion, trans­port was a re­cur­ring is­sue, re­gard­less of whether peo­ple were trav­el­ling to In­ver­ness or Fort Wil­liam for NHS or pri­vate ap­point­ments.

‘I know my­self, as I drive across the con­stituency, that fuel is costly and pub­lic trans­port is ex­pen­sive, and sadly of­ten in­fre­quent and un­re­li­able.

‘So de­vel­op­ing trans­port links, as part of pro­vid­ing lo­cal health­care, also needs to be a pri­or­ity.’

Kate Forbes MSP be­lieves com­pa­nies like FAGCC em­power and trans­form lo­cal com­mu­ni­ties.

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