A GROUP of Lochgelly residents are preparing to take their campaign for a new health centre to Holyrood after a visit by the Scottish health minister.

Michael Matheson MSP visited the Lochgelly Health Centre on Monday after the Scottish Government confirmed earlier this year that funding for a new surgery will not be provided until at least 2025.

Following the visit, campaigners were left "disappointed" after failing to get answers with one patient refusing to shake the minister's hand until the new health centre is provided.

NHS Fife promised to replace the David Street facility by 2019, but work never started and, earlier this year, it was kicked into the long grass when the Scottish Government announced it was to adopt a phased approach to capital expenditure meaning it could not be delivered within planned timescales.

NHS Fife has said the current centre is “functionally inadequate and compromises proactive patient care.”

At a meeting to discuss the issue held last month, Dr Kenneth Thompson, who works there, agreed that the building was not fit for purpose and is preventing patients from getting the care they deserve.

The health minister met patients and staff during his visit to the centre and was shown round the ageing site.

Garrie Roberts, who is chairperson of the Friends of the Lochgelly Health Centre group, was dismayed that their answers went unanswered.

"I was very, very disappointed," he said. "I asked him straight when we are getting a new surgery and he waffled for about 20 seconds and I said you are waffling.

"One of the delegation refused to shake his hand until we get the new health centre. She was very passionate.

"He said it will go to the Government to discuss in October/November and was waffling on about inflation and the price, the usual.

"The last thing I put to him is that the Scottish people are losing any confidence in this government. The next thing is we are going to have to take this to Holyrood."

The minister was shown around the health centre which Mr Roberts says is not fit for purpose.

He added: "I would hate to go there with embarrassment. If I was the type of person to be embarrassed going to see a doctor to explain something personal. There is no privacy whatsoever. Everything is wide open."

Local MSP Annabelle Ewing said she was pleased to welcome the Cabinet Secretary for Health as he took up her invitation of a visit to the centre.

“I invited Michael Matheson to come and see for himself the dilapidated state of the current facility and the dire need there is for a new medical centre to properly serve the needs of patients and staff here in Lochgelly," she said.

“So, I am very pleased that the Cabinet Secretary came, he saw, and he listened. I was also pleased to note that he absolutely accepts that the case has been made in terms of the need for a new Lochgelly Medical Centre.

“I fully understand the severe pressures that there are on the capital budget given both cuts from Westminster and increased construction inflation, all of which has led to a review of capital expenditure projects right across government.

“However, I have been – and will continue – pressing the Scottish Government to make the new Lochgelly Medical Centre a priority just as soon as capital spend decisions are made.

“Lochgelly has waited an awful long time and surely it must be its turn now.”

The Times has been vocal in supporting residents and politicians calling for a new centre, with protestors holding signs featuring a recent front page which highlighted the necessity for funds to be sought.

The issue was brought to the forefront this year with local MSP Alex Rowley hosting a recent public meeting at Lochgelly Centre as locals aired their views and heard from health care workers from Lochgelly Medical Centre.

In response to the protest, a Scottish Government spokesperson said: “The Health Secretary was grateful to practice staff and the Friends of Lochgelly Health Centre for meeting him and explaining why a replacement health centre is needed. 

“Due to significant increases in construction costs due to inflation, and a lower than expected capital grant from the UK Government, a capital review is currently underway across the Scottish Government and this will inform next year’s capital budget.”