Minister to see ‘dilapidated’ Fife health centre after halting funds for new one

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Scotland’s new Health Secretary is to visit a “dilapidated” health centre in Fife after kicking funding for a replacement facility into the long grass.

Michael Matheson accepted the invitation from fellow SNP MSP, Annabelle Ewing, who described the centre as “unfit for purpose” and offering “awful conditions for patients and staff.”

Her invite came after Kochgelly and Kincardine were told the long-awaited plans to fund new health centres were not a priority - and it could be years before either are built.

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NHS Fife had been pursuing plans to build both, but a decision by the Scottish Government to adopt a phased approach to capital expenditure meant neither could be delivered within planned timescales, and with no further updates planned until 2025, they may not even see the light of day until the end of the decade.

Funding for the new Lochgelly Health Centre has been put on holdFunding for the new Lochgelly Health Centre has been put on hold
Funding for the new Lochgelly Health Centre has been put on hold

That sparked a backlash, and the issue was raised by Ms Ewing during General Questions at the Scottish Parliament.

She challenged her party’s new Health Secretary on the next steps, and welcomed his agreement to come and see the centre for himself.

She said: “My question in the Chamber was echoing a letter I sent to Mr Matheson earlier this week in which I made it plain that news of further delay to the provision of a new Health and Wellbeing facility has been met with considerable concern, disappointment, and anger locally.

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“There are, in particular, fears that this delay will mean poorer care for the people of Lochgelly, less integration of services and professions, and an exacerbation of the difficulties that the area has in recruitment and retention of GPs and other staff.

“Of course, all the explanations Mr Matheson provided are true, but none of that delivers that much-needed new Health Centre to the community of Lochgelly.”

She added: “To ensure that he fully understands the dire need for this project to go ahead as quickly as possible, I invited the Cabinet Secretary to join me on a visit to Lochgelly Health Centre.”

Councilor David Ross, leader of Fife Council, has also written to Mr Matheson highlighting concerns the failure to provided new centres would “make it harder for NHS Fife to provide effective health care.”