PROMISES have been made but money must be made available if a new health centre in Lochgelly is going to become a reality.

That is the demand of MSP Alex Rowley who is calling for a commitment from the Scottish Government as funding for the facility is not expected until at least the second half of this decade.

The new building was proposed to be completed by 2019, with that timeline later revised to 2022.

"The people of Lochgelly and Benarty need to see a commitment made and money in the budget to make this happen," he told the Times.

"We need to move beyond the blame now. A budget for a new health centre in Lochgelly has been promised as a priority before, and the First Minister has previously been on record stating that money will be found.

"If this is a priority, then money can be found."

The Mid Scotland and Fife Labour MSP recently wrote to NHS Fife asking for an update on the project, with Carol Potter, chief executive, replying to state that the "main blockage" to the business case's progression is the availability of capital funding.

In a letter to the MSP, she said: "The funding situation remains difficult and your interest in finding a solution is welcome.

"Our updated outline business case was submitted to the Scottish Capital Investment Group on April 26. Within this submission we requested clarity on the approval process for the outline business case given the context around capital funding and we await a response from them regarding this.

"The full business case is well progressed, however, we require approval of our outline business case from the Scottish Capital Investment Group before finalising and submitting the full business case.

"We understand that the main blockage in respect to progress and approvals relates to availability of capital funding. It is not likely that the government will be able to provide funding until 2026 at the earliest based on current projections.

"This project remains a priority for NHS Fife, and we remain ready to deliver it once we receive confirmation that capital funding is available."

The Times previously reported that Michael Matheson, Scotland's health secretary, confirmed that new health centres in Kincardine and Lochgelly were two of a number of projects which the Scottish Government was "hoping to take forward at the earliest possible opportunity, if budget flexibility emerged".

He said: "The Scottish Government recognises that there is a need to invest in health facilities in Kincardine and Lochgelly.

"However, the impact of higher than expected inflation means there is no ability to expand the health infrastructure programme at this point.

"Instead, health infrastructure spending will be focused on the priority projects set out in the Infrastructure Investment Plan and funding for new health centres in Kincardine and Lochgelly is unlikely to be available until 2026 at the earliest."

Mr Rowley - who also launched a public petition calling for money for the project - had invited the minister to attend the "dilapidated and unfit for purpose" Lochgelly Medical Practice on David Street, but Mr Matheson cancelled earlier this month.

The visit was arranged so the cabinet secretary could "see first-hand the state of disrepair that medical professionals are having to work in, with doctors reporting having to put buckets out in the practice whenever it rains due to leaks in the roof," Mr Rowley said.

Commenting, he added: “To say that I am disappointed by the latest update to the saga of Lochgelly Health Centre would be an incredible understatement.

“It is unbelievably frustrating for the staff and patients of Lochgelly Health Centre to be strung along by the Scottish Government for over 12 years now and still see no further progress on the delivery of this long promised and much-needed facility.

“The 1,100 signatures received on the petition I started calling for the Scottish Government to fund this project show clearest the strength of feeling in the local community on this issue.

“We must move beyond what certainly appears to me to be empty promises made on the never never by the Scottish Government on this project to deliver the community health service that both the board of NHS Fife and the Scottish Government claim they want to deliver.

“There are also questions to answer over the transparency of this project, as I am finding it difficult to get the clarity needed on what is causing the ridiculous delays to this project.

“It should not take 12 years to move from discussion to delivery in what should be a straightforward project – this is not reinventing the wheel, it is simply building a GP practice that is fit for purpose."

Mr Rowley intends on hosting a public meeting in Lochgelly and has called for all local, constituency and regional politicians to attend as part of a public campaign to demand the delivery of the promised new facility.