The Sunday Post (Inverness) - - NEWS -

want the new hospi­tal at Gart­cosh. I wouldn’t be sur­prised if they even sug­gested to staff how to vote be­cause this whole process has been a stitch-up from be­gin­ning to end – the big­gest stitch-up in his­tory.”

Mr Neil claims the health board tried to scup­per the Glen­mavis site by over-in­flat­ing the costs of ground­work. He said: “NHS La­nark­shire pulled ev­ery stunt imag­in­able.” The pair also ac­cuse the health board of slash­ing travel times to Gart­cosh to make it ap­pear more ac­ces­si­ble; ig­nor­ing a planned £190 mil­lion road which would make Glen­mavis eas­ier to get to, and un­der­es­ti­mat­ing the cost of a cul­vert at Gart­cosh.

Thir­teen pub­lic con­sul­ta­tion meet­ings have taken place in re­cent months. A “core” group of 53 peo­ple was set up to as­sess po­ten­tial sites, and whit­tled the list down to the three sites. Mr Neil and Mr Gray say 27 were health man­age­ment or staff. Four were mem­bers of the project team.

Mr Gray called for an in­quiry into the con­sul­ta­tion, adding: “The 53 peo­ple who were asked to ‘score’ were hand­picked by NHS La­nark­shire. Our con­cern is that so many of them are health ‘ex­perts’, not or­di­nary pa­tients from the hospi­tal catch­ment area.” Mr Bartlett, chair­man of Glen­mavis-based veg­etable com­pany Al­bert Bartlett, chal­lenged the find­ings of the health board’s re­port into the cost of pre­par­ing his land for con­struc­tion work. He com­mis­sioned his own re­port then told the health board to re­move their claims, de­scrib­ing them as “po­ten­tially dam­ag­ing to fu­ture projects”.

He said: “I was happy to of­fer my land to the NHS as the pub­lic in this area have had a lo­cal hospi­tal for more than 40 years and I would like to see that con­tinue. I have stayed out of the pub­lic de­bate de­spite my mis­giv­ings about the de­ci­sion­mak­ing process by the NHS. “But I am not pre­pared to have my land tar­nished by an Nhs-com­mis­sioned re­port from in­di­vid­u­als who have never set foot on the site. “I have pro­vided the NHS with a re­port from lead­ing con­sul­tants who have ac­tu­ally sur­veyed the land.

“This re­ports paints a very dif­fer­ent pic­ture to what the NHS and their ad­vis­ers as­sert and I have asked them to in­clude this fac­tual re­port in their con­sul­ta­tion process.

“De­spite this, my of­fer of land re­mains and I am pre­pared to work with the NHS to de­liver a world-class hospi­tal for the Mon­k­lands pub­lic.” NHS La­nark­shire re­jected the politi­cians’ claims that the con­sul­ta­tion had been un­fairly bi­ased to­wards Gart­cosh.

Colin Lauder, di­rec­tor of plan­ning , prop­erty and per­for­mance, said the process had met all Scot­tish Govern­ment guide­lines and added the assess­ment of jour­ney times and trans­port links to the sites were ac­cu­rate and stood by the con­sul­tants’ es­ti­mated land clean-up costs.

He added: “Our only in­ter­est is to find the best pos­si­ble site for the fu­ture Univer­sity Hospi­tal Mon­k­lands.”

Mr Neil said the board’s re­sponse was mis­lead­ing and in­ac­cu­rate, adding: “As a for­mer Cabi­net Sec­re­tary for Health I am ap­palled at their be­hav­iour.”

Politi­cians have ac­cused NHS La­nark­shire of rig­ging con­sul­ta­tion into pos­si­ble sites for a new Mon­k­lands hospi­tal claim­ing the process has de­lib­er­ately over­es­ti­mated po­ten­tial draw­backs of a site in Glen­mavis while over­stat­ing the ben­e­fits of Gart­cosh

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