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NHS Highland remains commited to replacing the ageing Belford Hospital in Fort William, according to the health board’s new chief executive Pam Dudek.
At a meeting with local steering group members last week, NHS Highland said it would work closely with communities in Lochaber to refresh the redesign of services in the area.
Ms Dudek and NHS Highland chairman Professor Boyd Robertson met with members of the Lochaber Health and Social Care Redesign steering group to discuss timescales for a replacement Belford Hospital and progress on the wider service redesign.
Ms Dudek said: ‘I was delighted to meet with members of the Lochaber community for the first time since taking up post as NHS Highland’s chief executive.
‘We are committed to providing increased resources for the redesign and replacement Belford Hospital in order to deliver services which meet the needs of communities in Lochaber and across Highland, Argyll and Bute.’
Professor Robertson commented: ‘We had a very constructive meeting with the steering group and I would like to thank them for their positive engagement. Communities across Lochaber have been heavily involved in the health and social care redesign in the area and we are determined to continue this close working relationship.
‘The NHS Highland Board has made a commitment to redefine the scope of the steering group and we will meet again before Christmas to discuss plans for a refreshed timetable for the replacement Belford Hospital and wider service redesign.’
MSP Kate Forbes had met with Ms Dudek, Professor Boyd and several steering group members the previous week and she commented: ‘I know progress in building a new Belford Hospital has been slow, but it is good to see a renewed sense of urgency.
‘Last week, several members of the steering group and I met with the chairman and chief executive of NHS Highland.
‘There were a number of promising developments in terms of taking the planning forward. I understand the project steering group had a far more successful meeting last week, with a number of commitments that will make a big difference and speed things up.
‘Ultimately, we all want to see a new hospital delivered in Fort William as soon as possible.’
Community representative John Hutchison added: ‘We welcome the fresh commitment that the NHS Highland chairman and chief executive made at the earlier meeting with the three long-term campaigners [retired GP Dr Michael Foxley, retired Belford Hospital surgeon David Sedgwick and Mr Hutchison] chaired by Kate Forbes, and appreciate chief executive Pam Dudek attending the steering group to follow up on these undertakings.
‘We now have a definite commitment to increase senior staff resources working on the project and to set a clear timetable by the end of this year that defines the steps leading up to the construction of the new Belford.’
Belford Hospital in Fort William.
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NHS Highland Chief Executive Pam Dudek who attended the meeting about the replacement project for the Bellford Hospital.
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