THE Scottish Health Minister has pledged to "continue to look at what can be done" to provide a much-needed new health centre in Lochgelly.

Michael Matheson MSP admitted that the current ageing facility needed to be replaced when questioned in the Scottish Parliament by Cowdenbeath MSP Annabelle Ewing.

She had asked if he recognised that Lochgelly had waited "an awful long time" and that a new medical centre plans deserved to be treated as a priority.

The question followed Mr Matheson's visit to the town last week when he spoke with patients and staff at the centre who outlined the reasons why a new surgery was necessary.

Responding to Ms Ewing, he stated: "I put on record my thanks to those people in the local community and the staff in the health centre for their time and the engagement that I had with them during my visit.

"In my view, the health centre needs to be replaced. However, as I outlined to Annabelle Ewing and the local community, the health centre was not in the infrastructure investment plan for 2021 to 2026.

"Alongside that, we have to undertake a review of our capital expenditure due to a cut in our capital budget by the United Kingdom Government and construction inflation has had an impact too, because it has significantly pushed up the cost of existing projects.

"I assure the member that we will continue to look at what can be done, because I recognise the need for the health centre in Lochgelly to be replaced."

Speaking afterwards, Ms Ewing said that it was evident that Mr Matheson was in no doubt about the need for a replacement, but added: "The question that remains, however, is when it will be replaced?"

While appreciating money was tight right now, she said it was her job to ensure that as capital projects are reconsidered, Lochgelly got as high as possible on the list of priorities.

“That was my objective today, and it will remain my objective until a replacement health centre is secured and built,” said Ms Ewing.

The Friends of Lochgelly Health Centre, meanwhile, say they will continue to fight for a new surgery.

Chairperson Garrie Roberts said the recent meeting with Mr Matheson was a disappointment.

"He admitted that a new Health Centre was badly needed," he said. "The Group were bitterly disappointed that Mr Matheson did not commit to making funds available at this time. Neither would he give any indication as to when funds would be available if at all after all the promises over the last 12 years.

"The campaign for a new Centre built in Lochgelly will continue to gather momentum. The Friends of Lochgelly Health Centre are organising a visit to Holyrood involving all interested parties and all politicians are invited to join them.

"The object of the visit being to once again reiterate our needs and ensure our cause is kept current."