IT'S already years late and now the people of Lochgelly have been told the funding for a new health centre won't even be confirmed until the "second half of the decade".

Local councillor Linda Erskine said a campaign to replace the David Street building began more than a decade ago and the new facility was promised by 2019, and then 2022, but work has never started and residents are running out of patience.

Now NHS Fife have admitted the £13 million-plus needed to build it is "unlikely" to be in place "within the initially anticipated timescales" with the Scottish Government not allocating funds until 2025 at the earliest, with no date for when it will finally open.

Cllr Erskine said: "We pushed for it in 2012, it's that long ago.

"We had a meeting at Lynebank (in Dunfermline) with members of the health board, Scottish Government, Fife Council, the community council and members of the public, about new health centres for Lochgelly and Kincardine.

"The Lochgelly centre was falling to pieces then and it's progressively got worse. There are buckets to catch the water when it rains as the roof leaks.

"It's just not acceptable we have professional medical staff working in a sub-standard building and it's frustrating as councillors can't sort this, we can only keep raising the issue.

"It has to be the Scottish Government and NHS Fife that delivers a new health centre and the fact they've still not done so shows you what they think of Lochgelly and its citizens."

Last summer NHS Fife said the estimated cost of a new health centre on the Francis Street site had jumped from £8.15m to more than £13m.

It's long been accepted the David Street building is too small, too old and no longer fit for purpose, with NHS Fife admitting back in 2019 that the premises are "functionally inadequate and compromise pro-active patient care".

Cowdenbeath MSP Annabelle Ewing raised the issue in the Scottish Parliament last week and said that, in October 2021, she had received "absolute confirmation" from the cabinet secretary for health, Humza Yousaf, that when the business case for the health centre was in place, the funding would be found.

She was given the same assurance and asked if the minister "will advise my constituents in Lochgelly when they may expect, finally, to get their new medical centre?"

Minister for Public Health, Maree Todd MSP, replied: "I recognise the current health centre, and much of the NHS estate, needs replacing and that's why the Scottish Government is committed to investing £10 billion in health infrastructure over the next 10 years.

"That will include funding for a replacement health centre in Lochgelly because we remain absolutely committed to that project.

"Our planning assumption is that the phasing of the funding is likely to be in the second half of the decade and NHS Fife will align the update of the business case to that expected timeline."

After the meeting, Ms Ewing said she was concerned that the timetable for the project "has been slipping and slipping" but welcomed the assurance that the Scottish Government "remains committed" to the promised new health centre.

She added: “My constituents can be assured that I will monitor progress on this matter very carefully indeed and will continue to question both the Scottish Government and NHS Fife to ensure that this very important project is indeed delivered.”

Cllr Erskine told the Times: "At a community council meeting we had representatives from the health board telling us we would get our new health centre by 2019!

"When 2019 had come and gone and nothing had happened, Lochgelly Community Council had another representative from the health board who attended a meeting and said it was all on track and we'd definitely have it by 2022.

"So do I have any faith in what Annabelle Ewing says? Absolutely not.

"She was at the first meeting over 10 years ago and for her to raise it in parliament and just say she's satisfied with the assurance, quite frankly she should be ashamed."

NHS Fife submitted plans to the Scottish Government in 2017 but they were rejected.

An initial agreement was approved by the government in January 2020 but, more than three years later, the business case from NHS Fife has yet to be agreed.

In parliament last week Ms Todd said the Scottish Government's capital investment group looked at the outline business case last June and in response to feedback, the NHS Fife project team "are currently updating the business case".

NHS Fife said the outline business case should be resubmitted next month, they remain committed to providing new health and wellbeing centres for Lochgelly and Kincardine and will work with the Scottish Government to "secure funding".

The director of public health, Dr Joy Tomlinson, added: “Work is already underway to prepare the full business case, however, as stated last week in parliament, we have been advised that the Scottish Government is adopting a phased approach to capital expenditure.

“We have been advised, therefore, that funding is unlikely to be released for the Lochgelly and Kincardine projects within the initially anticipated timescales and we remain in dialogue with the Scottish Government to clarify the project funding timeframe.”