Concern over new health centre progress

NHS Grampian say discussions are continuing on how to fund the new health facilities
NHS Grampian say discussions are continuing on how to fund the new health facilities

A local councillor has voiced frustration over the slow progress towards new health facilities in Banchory.

Jill Webster is concerned valuable time is being lost in moving the long-awaited project forward.

Provision for a new health centre in Banchory is included in the local development plan, with land at the town’s Silverbank being earmarked.

Councillor Webster told the Piper she felt there had been no progress over the last few months in moving the proposals to the next stage.

NHS Grampian confirmed this week that discussions are ongoing on how the new facilities will be funded.

The board stated in June that they were a key priority.

But Councillor Webster said: “That’s six months we have lost and, to us, we are no further forward.

“I hope there’s work being done in the background because the community needs to know what’s happening.”

She explained that the Health and Social Care Integration Joint Board had been awaiting a report on the project since July.

The councillor added: “Everybody has known that this has been a project that the community wants to deliver and it’s a project that is not a ‘nice to have’, but an absolute necessity because of the growing population we now have.

“The premises we have got are just not fit for purpose. The roof leaks and there are temporary portacabins with short-term planning permissions.

“Most importantly, there is no way we can deliver the services that we should be delivering in communities because there is no room to do that in Banchory.

“We are not able to deliver the extra diagnostics, the extra visiting specialists and the extra treatments that we should do for a population the size of Banchory.”

Banchory Community Council has been pressing NHS Grampian on a timescale for the project and has invited a representative to a meeting early in the New Year.

Chair Mary Lennox said: “The community council is obviously keen that a new health centre is built as soon as possible.

“It was one of the two biggest concerns coming out of the local action plan process.

“Our concerns are that what we have is not fit for purpose in 2016; that it does not serve patients in a growing community well with issues surrounding privacy as well as facilities; and that it is also unfair to the hardworking medical and ancillary staff to work in such poor conditions.”

An NHS Grampian spokesperson said: “New healthcare facilities in Banchory remain a priority.

“A site has been identified in the council’s local development plan and discussions on how this project will be funded are ongoing.

“In the meantime we have received a further extension from Aberdeenshire Council which will allow the temporary buildings to remain in place.”