Minister has her final say on Monklands site -sparking "kick in the teeth" claim

Health Minister Jeane Freeman has had the final say in the choice for the new Monklands Hospital – farmland that lies on the other side of Airdrie from the existing site.

Ms Freeman made the decision in line with what was recommended by NHS Lanarkshire's board in mid December

Ms Freeman's decision, which was announced last Friday, mirrors the recommendation made by NHS Lanarkshire on Wednesday, December 16. The board has stated that this was in line with a lengthy public consultation.

It was one of three proposed sites – the others being Garcosh and Glenmavis- that lies at the greatest geographical distance from Cumbernauld and Kilsyth.

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Neena Mahal, chair of NHS Lanarkshire stated: “We are delighted that the Cabinet Secretary for Health Jeane Freeman, has approved the recommendation by the Board of NHS Lanarkshire that Wester Moffat should be the home of the new Monklands.

“The process of site selection for the MRP would not have been possible without the vital input we received from the public and our staff during our extensive stakeholder engagement process prior to the recommendation of a preferred site.”

Ms Freeman told this newspaper: “I am pleased to accept NHS Lanarkshire’s site recommendation and I would like to thank the members of the public and NHS staff who took part in the selection process.”

However, the move has been slammed by Cumbernauld Community Forum who argued that the site – which has no road or direct public transport links to it as yet - was the worst possible option for our readers.

Chairman Billy Lees said: “I was very disappointed to hear that Wester Moffat has been chosen. “Cumbernauld and residents of the Northern Corridor did not even know where it was before this option came up.

"The whole of Cumbernauld and Kilsyth are asking how the minister could come to a decision so quickly – has she ever heard of this area before?

“I wondered if this was maybe one of her great legacy before she retires at the next election?

“This decision is a kick in the teeth for our people.

"I think it’s a disgrace.”

Mr Lees has written to Ms Freeman’s Scottish Nationalist colleague Jamie Hepburn to express his dissatisfaction.

When we asked Mr Hepburn for comment he said: “Whilst a new state-of-the-art hospital is clearly welcome the preference of most of those who spoke with me from Cumbernauld and Kilsyth is that the Gartcosh site would be preferable.

"I have constantly communicated this to NHS Lanarkshire.

“Now the decision has been made it is essential that North Lanarkshire Council construct the link road that will make travel to and from the chosen site much more straightforward and the health board must provide detail on the plans for public transport links.

“Many people in the area prefer to use services in in Glasgow or Forth Valley and it is important that people know they remain able to do so.

"Stuart McDonald MP and I are also continuing to press the health board for a clear timetable for investing in health facilities locally to replace those that are now past their best and out of date.”