Cumbernauld citizens are being invited this week to view online a key health board meeting which will seek to agree upon a final recommendation to make in relation to the site of the new University Hospital Monklands.
The Board of NHS Lanarkshire will meet at 10.00am on Wednesday 16 December 2020 with a view to deciding on which of three identified locations should be recommended to Scottish Government as the preferred option for the hospital rebuild. The meeting will be steamed live for the public to watch from this link.
The meeting represents an important milestone in Monklands Replacement Project, which 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. The programme was initiated primarily due to a widespread view that the present University Hospital Monklands building is becoming unfit for purpose in terms of facilities, building infrastructure, dilapidation, financial maintenance and physical space.
Following a lengthy consultation process, Board members are expected to discuss and agree at the meeting whether to favour Gartcosh, Glenmavis or Wester Moffat as the geographical site for the £400 million new infirmary. Neena Mahal, Chair of the Board of NHS Lanarkshire, commented:
“We would like to thank the public and our staff for their participation during the extensive engagement process on the Monklands Replacement Project.
“The community’s valuable feedback on the three site options will be among a set of detailed information that will be fully considered by the Board in determining its recommendation for a preferred site.”
The recommendation of the Board will subsequently be presented to Jeane Freeman, Scottish Government’s Cabinet Secretary for Health and Sport, who is expected to make the final decision on where the new hospital will be built.
In October 2020, Cornerstone House Centre reported that the Airdrie farmland site at Wester Moffat had become the frontrunner to be recommended after it was revealed that it scored the most points in a comprehensive NHS Lanarkshire feasibility options appraisal, albeit its scoring advantage over the former steelworks site at Gartcosh was marginal.
It appears unlikely that the site at Glenmavis will be favoured at this stage as its score in the recent options appraisal was significantly lower than the other two sites. Recommending the Gartcosh site may also prove difficult now for Board members, given a public backlash when it was originally named as the preferred option in 2018 and strong opposition from Airdrie politicians Alex Neil MSP and Neil Gray MP. Last week, Mr Neil reiterated his stance by commenting:
“We have waited a long time for this decision; let us hope common sense prevails and the new hospital will be built in Airdrie.
“Once the Board has made its recommendation, the final decision will rest with Scottish Government. Along with Neil Gray MP, I will be doing all I can to ensure that the Government makes a decision quickly.
“We need to end the uncertainty surrounding the choice of a new site for the hospital as a matter of urgency. We can then get on with the job of getting the new hospital built, a huge project which will create hundreds of new jobs in the area.” Mr Gray concurred by adding:
“Wester Moffat is the highest scoring option of the three potential sites, and it’s time now for NHS Lanarkshire to confirm this as their recommendation.”
The outcome of Wednesday’s meeting will directly affect all citizens of Greater Cumbernauld, who for many years have accessed University Hospital Monklands as their nearest infirmary containing an Accident and Emergency Department. Mary McNeil, Development Manager at Cornerstone House Centre, said:
“The people of Cumbernauld, Kilsyth and surrounding villages will be watching with interest this week to see which proposed hospital site the Board of NHS Lanarkshire chooses to make as its recommendation.
“Understandably, the decision on where to rebuild Monklands Hospital is an emotive and highly important one for people living in the local area.
“Through various means, including a Community Discussion Event hosted at Cornerstone House in February 2020, local people have contributed in great number and constructively to the Monklands Replacement Project engagement process over the past two years.
“Cumbernauld Community Health Information Hub’s main hope and expectation is that the views of the many Cumbernauld residents that took time to provide comments and feedback during consultation have been fully considered and taken on board ahead of Wednesday’s crucial meeting.”
Public transport links and distances to local hospitals have been contentious issues for people living in Greater 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.
If constructed at Glenmavis or Gartcosh, the new hospital campus will geographically be slightly closer for Cumbernauld residents. However, this will only prove advantageous if efficient public transport and road links from Cumbernauld town centre to the hospital site are implemented.
The M80 and M73 motorways presently offer the best road link between Cumbernauld and the identified site at Gartcosh, whilst the A73 dual carriageway is the primary connection road between Cumbernauld and Glenmavis. 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 if it is built at Wester Moffat.
HOW TO LIVE STREAM NHS LANARKSHIRE’S BOARD MEETING OF WEDNESDAY 16 DECEMBER 2020
The key NHS Lanarkshire Board meeting of Wednesday 16 December 2020 is being streamed live online through this link for any member of the public to watch. It begins at 10.00am and is being made available using Microsoft Teams.
To stream the meeting, viewers will require access to the internet through a media-source extension (MSE)-enabled web browser like Chrome, Firefox or Microsoft Edge. It may not be possible to watch the stream through Safari and older versions of Internet Explorer.
If you are unable to view the meeting, information on its outcome will be made available afterwards through Cornerstone House Centre’s website and social media channels.
Full public documentation and latest information updates in relation to Monklands Replacement Project, including the recent Options Appraisal Report, can be accessed online by visiting www.monklands.scot.nhs.uk.