Cumbernauld citizens are being given a final opportunity this week to have their say on the location of the new University Hospital Monklands following completion of a site options appraisal in September.
The Monklands Replacement Project is NHS Lanarkshire’s proposal to replace the existing Monklands Hospital, situated close to Airdrie town centre, with a newly rebuilt, state-of-the-art Monklands Hospital on a new site. A shortlist of three geographical sites had previously been identified for the rebuild; these are located at Gartcosh, Glenmavis and Wester Moffat.
Now, the location appears to be a straight choice between Gartcosh and Wester Moffat, with both significantly outscoring Glenmavis in a site feasibility options appraisal which recently concluded.
The Airdrie farmland site of Wester Moffat scored a total of 195.74 points in a scoring exercise involving a cohort of Lanarkshire residents and healthcare staff coordinated during July and August, narrowly ahead of the former steelworks site at Gartcosh, which received 194.12. The site at Glenmavis scored lowest with a rating of 156.84.
The assessment incorporated the three potential locations being scored on a range of criteria, including travel times by road and public transport, access to NHS regional centres, site contamination and the impact of patients from Glasgow attending the new hospital.
NHS Lanarkshire is now seeking public opinion on the options appraisal, with the health board eager to emphasise that the site scores do not represent a final decision on the location of the new infirmary.
A public consultation period is now live and runs until midnight on Sunday 18 October 2020, providing an opportunity for local people, hospital staff and other stakeholders to give their views. Colin Lauder, NHS Lanarkshire’s Director of Planning, Property and Performance, commented:
“The option appraisal process has produced a score for each of the sites, but it is important to note that no decision has been made at this stage on the final choice for the hospital’s location.
“There are several other factors that require to be considered by the NHS Lanarkshire Board before they recommend a preferred site option to the Cabinet Secretary for Health, who will make a final decision.
“A key element will be the views we receive about the option appraisal process and its outcome, so we’d encourage the community and our NHS Lanarkshire colleagues to give us their opinions during the feedback period.
“The feedback received between now and 18 October will be considered by the Board alongside a range of other factors, including all the information we gathered during our public engagement work earlier this year.”
The full Options Appraisal Report and supporting information have been published on the Monklands Replacement Project webpage. This includes an update to the Fairer Scotland Duty assessment, which requires NHS Lanarkshire to consider the financial impact of the hospital’s relocation.
Amongst the views being considered are those from an independently-facilitated Community Discussion Event hosted by Cumbernauld Community Health Information Hub at Cornerstone House in February 2020. Mary McNeil, Development Manager at Cornerstone House Centre, said:
“As a local Community Anchor Organisation, Cornerstone House Centre recognises the huge importance and potential implications of the decision on the relocation of University Hospital Monklands for citizens living in Greater Cumbernauld.
“We recognise that, rightly so, local people have strong views on this issue. That’s why Cumbernauld Community Health Information Hub has sought in recent months to publish latest news and developments relating to the consultation.
“If you are a Cumbernauld resident and would like to have your say on the location of the new hospital, it’s important to provide your comments to NHS Lanarkshire by 18 October at the latest.
“It is highly likely that this week will be the final opportunity that the public has to submit feedback, and as such we would encourage as many people living in Cumbernauld to do so to ensure that the area’s views are well represented.”
Once the consultation period has ended, NHS Lanarkshire’s Board will identify their preferred site option. A recommendation will subsequently be presented to Jeane Freeman, Scottish Government’s Cabinet Secretary for Health and Sport, who will make a final decision on the location of the new hospital.
It is anticipated that the new hospital will cost £400 million to build, after a previous option to rebuild on the existing Monklands Hospital site was ruled out due to cost and logistics. The current public feedback period represents the final stage of an elongated and controversial consultation process which started more than two years ago.
It was in 2018 that Gartcosh was first revealed as the front-running option following an initial health board options appraisal. Thousands of subsequent petition signatures opposing the Gartcosh site resulted in an independent review assigned by Scottish Government, leading to a second consultation process. The completion of this has been further delayed by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic this year.
Last month, Alex Neil MSP and Neil Gray MP applied further pressure for the hospital not to be built at Gartcosh, with both publically declaring their support for the Wester Moffat site following the options appraisal findings.
Distance and public transport links to local hospitals have been contentious issues for people living in Cumbernauld for a long time. The current Monklands Hospital site is situated about eight miles from Cumbernauld town centre, with alternative options Forth Valley Royal Hospital and Glasgow Royal Infirmary more than 10 miles away.
Whether the new hospital location proves beneficial or not to the people of Cumbernauld may ultimately depend upon the efficiency of road and public transport links from Cumbernauld town centre to the hospital site.
If constructed at Wester Moffat, the proposed East Airdrie Link Road to be developed between Stand and Newhouse theoretically offers a fast and direct route between Cumbernauld and the new hospital. The M80 and M73 motorways presently offer the best road links between Cumbernauld and the identified site at Gartcosh.
HOW TO SUBMIT YOUR VIEWS ON THE LOCATION OF THE NEW UNIVERSITY HOPSITAL MONKLANDS
Individuals that wish to provide feedback on the options appraisal results are asked to do so by contacting NHS Lanarkshire via email, post or telephone by midnight on Sunday 18 October 2020. Contact should be directed as follows:
POST: FREEPOST RTEJ-HZLK-AETZ, Communications Department, NHS Lanarkshire, Kirklands Hospital, Fallside Road, Bothwell, G71 8BB
TELEPHONE: 01236 713348
Further information on the Monklands Replacement Project can be acquired by visiting www.monklands.scot.nhs.uk. Different versions of the recently published Options Appraisal Report can be downloaded using the below links.