Possible lifeline for Belford Hospital revamp

  • 21st February 2024

Scottish Health Secretary, Neil Gray, is considering allowing work on the new Belford Hospital in Fort William to press ahead, despite the Government’s controversial decision to halt hospital projects for at least two years.

Last month the Scottish Government revealed it was ruling out new health construction projects until 2026 at the earliest in favour of prioritising essential maintenance and equipment repairs.

But Skye, Lochaber and Badenoch MSP, Kate Forbes, told Parliament this week that the planning process for the new Belford Hospital should be allowed to continue so that work carried out to date is not wasted.

She said: “My question to the cabinet secretary is even if there is no capital to build the hospital, would the Scottish Government at least allow the planning process to progress so the work to date isn’t wasted?”

Work on the new Belford Hospital was stalled due to the decision to halt all major infrastructure projects

Responding to her question, Gray said: “It is essential that NHS boards continue to plan for how they will improve and reform services.

“We will remain committed to supporting them in that process.”

And he blamed the decision to freeze projects on the budget settlement the Holyrood government got from Westminster.

“Many capital projects are under threat not because of anything the Scottish Government has done, but because of the UK Government’s disastrous management of the economy, as well as the 10% cut to our budget,” he added.

“Once again we appeal to the UK Government to use the spring budget next month to reverse that cut.”

First mooted nearly 20 years ago, the new hospital, being commissioned by NHS Highland, was expected to cost more than £160m and was earmarked for completion in 2028.

The principal supply chain partner for the project is Balfour Beatty.

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