Update sought on new Fort hospital
LOCHABER MSP Kate Forbes will today ask the Scottish Government for an update on plans to build to a new Belford Hospital.
Ms Forbes will address the chamber at First Minister’s questions this afternoon (Thursday June 29).
The MSP told the Lochaber Times she is committed to ‘rural-proofing’ the Fort William hospital as laid out by the then Health Secretary, and now First Minister of Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon, almost 10 years ago.
She said: ‘ The then Health Secretary, Nicola Sturgeon, choose six hospitals in Scotland’s remote and rural areas to become special, enhanced Rural General Hospitals almost 10 years ago. The Belford was one of them, and it was a pivotal moment for healthcare in Lochaber. Concerns that plans to replace the 50-year-old hospital had fallen silent were raised by the community in January. A steering group has been set up and the NHS says ‘significant background work’ has taken place. However readers have contacted the
Lochaber Times wondering why no ‘visible’ progress had been made.
Now Ms Forbes wants to see the government build on what Ms Sturgeon set out in 2008.
She said: ‘It is about building a stateof-the-art new hospital in Fort William, minimising travel to Raigmore and attracting the best doctors, nurses and other healthcare professions. It is about the growth of Fort William, with new jobs and new homes. We have the rare opportunity to shape our healthcare in Lochaber for decades to come and that process must be guided by a desire to see the West Highlands thrive, prosper and grow.’
A spokesperson from NHS Highland has said work was ‘ongoing’, with a steering group and project team established.
‘This is contributing to the development of a formal initial agreement which will go to Highland Health and Social Care Partnership Committee, NHS Highland Board and then to the Scottish Government Capital Investment Group and Scottish Ministers. The current timescale is that the initial agreement will be complete and submitted by summer 2018 and that the building will be operational in 2020/21. A more robust timeline will be developed as part of the initial agreement process.’