Fight goes on for new health centre for Milngavie and Bearsden despite health chiefs rejection

Health chiefs have rejected a call for a new health centre to serve Milngavie and Bearsden – but the fight is continuing.

Gil Paterson MSP and Rona Mackay MSP

The Herald reported recently how two local MSPs had written to the chairman of NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde to highlight the ‘vital’ need to upgrade health facilities in the area, supported by local doctors.

But the health board has rejected their latest bid for a new health hub to be built locally.

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Mr Paterson, MSP for Clydebank and Milngavie said: “I am extremely disappointed by the NHSGGC Chief Executive Jane Grant’s reply.

“She explains how as part of the NHSGGC assessment of need and opportunity undertaken in 2020, the Milngavie and Bearsden proposal fell short of the highest-ranking projects and as a result this development is not scheduled to be taken forward at this time.”

He added: “Unfortunately, no scores of the criteria for assessment were provided so I don’t know if it is because of patient experience or financial implications that our project fell.

"It is particularly disappointing that the local East Dunbartonshire Health and Social Care Partnership has endorsed NHSGGC’s response. The need for this facility in Milngavie and Bearsden has not gone away nor has the campaign to provide the health centre.”

Mr Paterson said he and Ms Mackay, the MSP for Strathkelvin and Bearsden, would continue the fight.

At the moment, GP surgeries in the area are confined to converted house dwellings.

A new health hub would bring services all under one roof and help provide for the whole area, they said, particularly with the growing and ageing local population.

As well as doctors’ surgeries, it would be the hope that a new hub would include district nursing, health visiting, a pharmacy team, podiatry, dieticians, physiotherapy and a home care team.

Mr Paterson said: “I have long stated the need for a new health hub in Bearsden and Milngavie.”

Ms Mackay, who has jointly been working on the issue, added: “The enduring model of having doctors’ surgeries in converted houses is now making expansion for GPs very difficult and Bearsden and Milngavie would benefit from this evolution into a modern and efficient health hub.”

The Herald’s original article highlighting the campaign for a new health centre has been backed by many local people.

They include John Hooper, who in a letter to the Herald, described a health centre as long overdue and added: “This would greatly benefit every single person in the area, both young and old, and as stated in the article, is badly needed within the area.

"I hope this will be top of everyone’s agenda. The area population has increased enormously and the demand on health services is even greater.”

The site of the former St Joseph’s Primary School in Milngavie has been put forward in recent times by local community groups as a possible location for a new health centre – not least because it is beside a local clinic.

However, NHSGGC told the Herald yesterday (Wednesday) that it had to balance competing demands across the Greater Glasgow health board area and that a new health centre for the Milngavie and Bearsden area was not a priority at this time.

Their spokesperson said: “We recognise that there is a physical space capacity challenge for health services in the East Dunbartonshire area and can assure residents that we will take account of this as part of future planning processes.

"However, we must balance competing demands for investment priorities across Greater Glasgow and Clyde.

"As part of this, last year NHSGGC carried out work to assess the need for health centre development across the health board area.

"Unfortunately the resulting prioritisation process saw the development of a new health centre in the Milngavie area fall outside the highest ranking projects.

"As such, and bearing in mind the constraints on capital budget that we are obliged to work within, it is not scheduled to be taken forward at this time.”

The spokesperson added: “A detailed study of the property needs for each HSCP within the Board area is currently underway and will inform a future strategic investment submission to Scottish Government to seek funding.

“We are constantly seeking to ensure we make best use of the space that we do have, working in partnership with our local authority colleagues.”