CURRENT STAGE IN THE PROCESS
On Tuesday 10th March 2020 there will be a scoring event involving 100 people; 51 members of the community and 49 staff from NHS Lanarkshire and health service partners, to rank the three potential sites of Gartcosh, Glenmavis and Wester Moffat for a replacement University Hospital Monklands in line with the agreed benefits criteria. The five benefits criteria are:
- Travel times by road and public transport – patients
- Travel times by road and public transport – staff
- Access/connectivity to regional centres
- Impact of cross border flow – impact of Glasgow residents attending the hospital
This event will then ultimately inform NHS Lanarkshire’s decision on a preferred site which will then go to the Cabinet Secretary for Health for approval.
YOUR SNP REPRESENTATIVES – WORKING FOR YOU
Throughout the process your SNP politicians across the area have worked tirelessly to make sure that your voice is heard. This has been borne out by the work of Alex Neil MSP and Neil Gray MP in Airdrie & Shotts who helped to secure the Independent Review of the consultation. It has also been evident through attendance at the public consultation events. Recently I attended two of the four events; the first in Gartcosh with local SNP councillor, Greg Lennon, and the second in Coatbridge with SNP councillors, Tracy Carragher and Kirsten Larson. This is important because we know that you expect us to work on your behalf and and make representations. That’s exactly what we have all being doing and we are now close to taking a massive step in delivering a brand-new state-of-the-art hospital for our area and for generations to come.
THREE LOCATIONS – PUBLIC ENGAGEMENT PROCESS
As you will be aware the site for the new hospital is to be scored and then selected from a shortlist of three; Gartcosh, Glenmavis and Wester Moffat. All three meet the relevant criteria and the differences in projected costing appear negligible given the scale of the project. At the time of the initial consultation there was a lot of focus on where the current site should be with individual communities, in the main, opting for the site closest to them. The argument made by NHS Lanarkshire at that time was that it was not overly relevant where in the catchment area the new hospital would be due to the changing nature of care. This was an argument that was lost at that point in time. However, I would suggest that this is no longer the case. NHS Lanarkshire have committed to my recommendation and that of the Independent Review team to make use of the current site and this could be a key aspect in everyone moving forward once the location has been selected. It means that we – the people of Monklands – can get the best of both worlds; a new hospital and something on the current site which tackles head on the unique health needs of this area.
I am also of the opinion that NHS Lanarkshire have accepted in full the recommendations of the Independent Review and conducted this process fairly and transparently. It is clear that suggestions from the public and elected representatives have been taken on board and all efforts made to facilitate public attendance at events. I believe that this has brought about more confidence in the process and a shared sense of direction in delivering a new hospital for the whole area.
LOCATION OF NEW HOSPITAL
Having been involved in the process since it was first brought to the attention of the public my own view is that the selected site of the new hospital is academic in terms of how we address health care needs in the modern day, with more focus on care in the community. Coatbridge & Chryston is fairly uniquely placed in this debate especially around site preference. Each particular site has pros and cons for different areas within my constituency. Very broadly speaking I have had the following representations:
- Constituents in Northern Corridor and other village communities mainly preferring Gartcosh although a significant number being against this due to perceived infrastructure difficulties.
- Constituents in parts of North and West Coatbridge having a preference towards Gartcosh.
- Constituents in parts of North and Central Coatbridge having a preference for Glenmavis although concerns have been raised about the road linking Coatbridge to Glenmavis.
- Constituents in South Coatbridge and parts of West Coatbridge having a preference for Wester Moffat although noted concerns around potential access.
- Some constituents have told me that none of the three sites are ideally located.
- Some constituents have told me they are relaxed about any of the sites – a view that has gathered more support since the Independent Review process ruled out the current site as an option.
Therefore, given that there is no obvious preference or even preference by a majority, and to represent my constituents wishes fully, it is incumbent on me not to advocate for a preferred site from the three available. Secondly, the more fundamental reason for this approach is that I am persuaded by the argument that the location of the new hospital does not have the same value as it did when the Monklands was first built. There are a number of reasons for this. As a population we are used to having to use Wishaw and Hairmyres for certain treatments and procedures. Also, as previously stated I have helped secure a commitment for health services to go on the current site and I cannot emphasise enough that we now have an amazing opportunity to bring in services that are relevant to the particular geographical area and retain jobs and investment locally. When the new site is selected the most important task for me between then and the site and opening in 2027 will be working to ensure the best transport links are in place for people all across the constituency and also helping to facilitate the debate around what should go on the current site.
MY COMMITMENTS TO YOU
- I will be accepting the final decision of the Cabinet Secretary in relation to the site of the new hospital. This will be based on the results of the scoring exercise and the recommendations of the board of NHS Lanarkshire. It seems clear that there will be enough information on all of the sites for this decision to be made by government.
- The hospital will not open until 2027 at the earliest and I will then be working to secure the necessary transport links are in place for all parts of Coatbridge and Chryston to get to the new hospital.
- I aim to be involved in taking forward the conversation with NHS Lanarkshire, the University of Strathclyde and North Lanarkshire Council to develop plans for the current site. Some suggestions that have already been made include outpatient care and a minor injuries unit (such as Stobhill Hospital), drug and alcohol rehabilitation services, specialist care, etc. I am keen that this conversation starts immediately and we can all work to get the best services on the site.
- Regardless of where the new hospital goes I will continue to push for a full and modern health facility for the Northern Corridor. Unlike the hospital which will be for all of the Monklands catchment area we desperately need health services that prevents patients in the north of my constituency having to travel to Glasgow. Again there is a commitment in place and I will be working to ensure that this is actioned as quickly as possible.