Lochgelly Health Centre: Minister’s visit was ‘just waffle’ say campaigners

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The Scottish Health Secretary met with a community delegation to discuss the health centre’s funding position on Monday.

Michael Matheson travelled to Lochgelly on Monday morning to visit the “dilapidated” and “crumbling” local health centre. The Scottish Health Secretary was invited to see it for himself after Lochgelly and Kincardine were told that long-awaited plans to fund new health centres were not a priority - and it could be years before either are built.

He was greeted by demonstrators demanding the £13m capital funding needed to replace the Lochgelly Health Centre. Mr Matheson met with a delegation from the Friends of Lochgelly Health Centre group to discuss community concerns.

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Garrie Roberts, a local resident and chair of the group, described entering the meeting with a positive outlook and leaving with a bitter taste in his mouth.

Michael Mathieson's visit to Lochgelly Health Centre didn't impress campaigners (Pic:  Submitted)Michael Mathieson's visit to Lochgelly Health Centre didn't impress campaigners (Pic:  Submitted)
Michael Mathieson's visit to Lochgelly Health Centre didn't impress campaigners (Pic: Submitted)

“Maybe I’m naive, but I actually believed that this guy was coming all this way with his entourage on a positive note. When he started waffling I just sank,” Mr Roberts recalled.

The delegation group was called inside to meet Mr Matheson just after he finished his tour on Monday, and they spent about 15 minutes with him. “He was a professional waffler,” Mr Roberts said.

The delegation asked Mr Matheson when Lochgelly would get their new health centre and Mr Roberts felt they did not receive a clear answer.

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“He just went on about inflation and everything we already know about - the costs of everything has gone up. And that’s all we got. I stopped him and said ‘You’re just waffling. We don’t want waffle,” Mr Roberts explained.

Annabelle Ewing SNP MSP, for the Cowdenbeath constituency, was at the Lochgelly Health Centre on Monday.

“I invited Michael Matheson to come and see for himself the dilapidated state of the current facility and the dire need there is for a new medical centre to properly serve the needs of patients and staff here in Lochgelly,” she said.

Ms Ewing said she was pleased that the Cabinet Secretary came to listen and noted that he “absolutely accepts that the case has been made in terms of the need for a new Lochgelly Medical Centre.”

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“I fully understand the severe pressures that there are on the capital budget given both cuts from Westminster and increased construction inflation, all of which has led to a review of capital expenditure projects right across government,” she said. “However, I have been – and will continue - pressing the Scottish Government to make the new Lochgelly Medical Centre a priority. Lochgelly has waited an awful long time and surely it must be its turn now.”

A Scottish Government spokesperson added: “The Health Secretary was grateful to practice staff and the Friends of Lochgelly Health Centre for meeting him and explaining why a replacement health centre is needed. Due to significant increases in construction costs due to inflation, and a lower than expected capital grant from the UK Government, a capital review is currently underway across the Scottish Government and this will inform next year’s capital budget.”

The Friends of Lochgelly Health Centre said they will continue to push for funding to come sooner rather than later. Mr Roberts said the group is currently in the process of organising a demonstration in front of the Scottish Parliament building in Edinburgh.

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