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Scotland’s Shadow Health Secretary, Donald Cameron, has urged NHS Highland to drive forward the project to replace the Belford Hospital in Fort William, saying that he is concerned that it seems to have made little progress.
Highlands and Islands Conservative MSP Mr Cameron made his comments after receiving a reply from NHS Highland chief executive Pam Dudek after he wrote to her on behalf of local people worried about the slow progress and lack of news about the project.
Lochaber constituency MSP Kate Forbes has also been pressing NHS Highland to progress the project.
It was reported that at a meeting in December of the local steering group, which is attended by NHS Highland officials, the figure of six years until the new hospital opens it doors to patients was mentioned as a possible ‘worst case scenario’.
Mr Cameron said he welcomed the update from Ms Dudek, and especially the news that NHS Highland has put dedicated staff in place to drive forward the project, but wondered why it has taken so long to get to this point.
Judging by the response from the chief executive we are still at an early stage in the commissioning process,’ commented Mr Cameron.
‘The people of Lochaber have been waiting a very long time for a replacement for the Belford and, frankly, unless there is a greater sense of urgency about this, I suspect we will be waiting for a long time to come.
‘The difficulties caused by the current wintry weather, combined with the immense challenge of the Covid pandemic, underlines why we so badly need a fit-for-purpose hospital here in Fort William.
‘Local people are immensely loyal to the Belford so the replacement must do justice to them and to the dedicated staff who work there.’