A PUBLIC apology should be made to the people of Lochgelly after delays to its new health centre.

That is what MSP Alex Rowley feels should happen after the Scottish Government revealed the £13 million-plus facility will not be delivered "within the initially anticipated timescales".

The Times told you recently that 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.

With the Scottish Government not allocating funds until 2025 at the earliest, and with no date for when it will finally open, residents are running out of patience.

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 sought assurance from Minister for Public Health Maree Todd MSP that it would be built.

The Minister said: "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."

MSP Alex Rowley said he was stunned to hear the minister's comments over the timescale now facing the health centre.

"I believe that those politicians who made promises to the people of Lochgelly that the centre was to be complete by now should now be making a public apology," he told the Times.

"I understand local people and indeed the staff of the medical centre are devastated and they have been badly let down.

"The response from Maree Todd was very bad news for the people of Lochgelly and extremely disappointing for the staff in the town.

"The impact of further delay in this much-needed facility will result in poorer care for the people of Lochgelly; less integration of services and professions; and will add to the difficulties that the area has in recruitment and retention of GPs and other staff.

"It is also bad news for other Fife communities who are also desperately in need of new health facilities, as Lochgelly was said to be the first priority and first in line, so goodness knows when others might get addressed that are also in a state of not being fit for purpose. Communities across Fife are being let down.

"I have written to the Cabinet Secretary for Health asking for a meeting to discuss these issues and I will also be meeting with staff from the Lochgelly Health Centre to hear first-hand their deep concerns at this appalling situation."

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “We know that a new health centre is needed in Lochgelly and we are keen to see that the business case is progressed by NHS Fife so that construction can begin when funding becomes available.

“Healthcare infrastructure spending until 2026 will be focused on the priority projects identified in the Scottish Government’s Infrastructure Investment Plan due to significant increases in construction costs from inflation and the Scottish Government receiving a lower capital grant from the UK Government over the next three years than was expected.

"This limits the number of projects which can start construction in the next three years."