We can’t afford any more delays to new health centre

Monday 7th December 2015


Last week John Swinney updated Parliament on Scotland’s public finances. Like the curate’s egg his statement was good and bad. On the good side the £6m longawaited project to replace Ravenscraig Hospitalwas finally given the go ahead.

The most recent delays were a result of a dispute between the Scottish Government and EU over funding rules for major capital projects. Not only did the delays cause unnecessary distress to families I also understand that they may have resulted in additional construction costs for the project.

During question time in Parliament on Thursday I demanded that Health Minister Shona Robison ensure the Scottish Government meet these extra costs in full. After all, the government got itself into this wrangle with the EU because it failed to get its own financial procedures in order for funding major capital projects.

As if often the case with politicians what they don’t say is just as important as what they do say. In his statement last week John Swinney failed to make any mention of how and when the plans for the new facility to replace Greenock’s crumbling health centre will go ahead.

Over three years agoI highlighted that the centre needed £1m worth of repairs to bring it up to a modern and acceptable standard. After a long campaign the government finally announced in the summer that it would provide £19m for a new facility. However, recent reports in the Greenock Telegraph have suggested that the project has been hit by the same financial problems that faced Ravenscraig and may not now begin until 2019.

The Scottish Government has a responsibility to the community to tell us when the project will begin, how it will be funded and when the new health centre will be delivered. We cannot afford any further wrangling over EU funding rules. It will be patients, families and the local community that will lose out as a result.