Health secretary blocks Monklands rebuild

Thursday 27th June 2019

The Health Secretary has blocked proposals to rebuild Monklands University Hospital on its existing site after an independent review said NHS Lanarkshire should re-run its selection process for a replacement for the hospital.

Lanarkshire health board had initially chosen to build a new hospital at Gartcosh, five miles away, after a lengthy appraisals process whittled down all other options.

Now it is being advised to re-run the process for deciding the new site and include local people’s views.

The independent review, carried out by Glasgow university, said there was no evidence of deliberate fixing but warned the health board must act to change a ‘perception’ that the Gartcosh site was ‘predetermined’.

The review team asked NHS Lanarkshire to bring in new independent members of the project board and reassess the top two locations of Gartcosh and Glenmavis for the new hospital.

Reviewers also said the board should ‘explicitly and transparently’ take account of the public’s views through a panel of local residents.

But in a parliamentary response the Health Secretary now says she is stepping in in to exclude the option of building a new hospital on the same site.

In response to a question from local MSP, Alex Neil, she says this is because ‘building a new hospital on an existing hospital site takes longer, costs more, risks infection and other patient safety issues, while creating performance and access issues during the long construction phase.’

‘There is therefore little point in including an option which will score poorly in the option appraisal process,’ it states.

Speaking earlier today in Holyrood, Labour MSP Elaine Smith accused the Scottish Government of sneaking the “shocking decision” out just before parliamentary recess.

And party leader Richard Leonard said the move was a “betrayal” of the local community.

Meanwhile, the SNP’s parliamentarians for Airdrie & Shotts, Alex Neil MSP and Neil Gray MP, have issued statements saying they are ‘confident’ the site will remain in the Monklands area:

“The people of Monklands are united against plans for the new hospital to be built on the Gartcosh site. I hope NHS Lanarkshire will now recognise that for any proposal to carry the necessary level of public support, the new hospital has to be built within the Monklands area.”

In a statement, Ms Freeman said: “On the process for selecting the site, I have asked NHS Lanarkshire to broaden out the process and to work closely with the local planning authority to ensure they can support and contribute to a more constructive, inclusive and open review of the options with meaningful public engagement.

“We’re committed to delivering a new hospital for everyone living in the Monklands catchment area. The new Monklands hospital will retain an A&E department along with associated specialist services. This will mean that if there are any viable sites in the Monklands area, beyond Gartcosh and Glenmavis, they will be considered, and it will ensure that the most appropriate site is identified through an appraisal process that is supported by the local community.”