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Plans for new Dr Gray's Hospital MRI and Ward 4 refurbishment paused indefinitely as NHS Grampian grapples with funding uncertainties


By Ewan Malcolm

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PLANS for a new MRI suite at Dr Gray's in Elgin as well as refurbishment of the hospital's mental health ward have been paused indefinitely.

Dr Gray's Hospital, Elgin. Picture: Daniel Forsyth
Dr Gray's Hospital, Elgin. Picture: Daniel Forsyth

NHS Grampian says that putting a pause on the projects is necessary due to uncertainties regarding funding.

In an update shared with hospital staff yesterday, the health board said that the Scottish Government's budget, announced in December, "outlined a very challenging picture for public sector spending".

The government has since confirmed that based on the budget allocation for 2024/25, work on a new £130million national treatment centre for Grampian, which included the MRI at Dr Gray's, will not progress any further.

Plans to refurbish Ward 4, the mental health ward at Dr Gray's, which were planned to take place alongside the construction of the MRI suite, will also be halted.

This position will be maintained until there is "certainty" on funding.

The staff update added: "Clearly, this news is hugely disappointing, not only for those who have worked on this project, but for the wider organisation and for everyone living and working in Grampian.

"We want to emphasise our ongoing commitment to these projects, and we hope both will proceed at some point in the future.

"It is worth noting any capital funds we receive will be directed towards maintenance of the existing estate and essential equipment replacement programmes."

The Muirton Ward at Seafield Hospital in Buckie had been identified as a possible temporary location for Ward 4 patients while refurbishment work took place at Dr Gray's.

However, with plans to refurbish the ward now on hold, patients will remain at the Elgin hospital while Muirton Ward will continue to deliver care for acute dementia patients.

A spokesperson for NHS Grampian said: "It is recognised that continuity of care - and minimal disruption - is vitally important for all mental health patient groups.

"The mental health ward at Dr Gray's and outpatient services will continue to operate at Dr Gray's and Muirton Ward at Seafield Hospital in Buckie will continue to deliver care for acute dementia patients.

"The detailed work done to identify and assess local sites and come up with a plan to make refurbishment possible is invaluable and will be helpful in the future when capital planning works can progress."

The Muirton Ward at Seafield Hospital in Buckie had been tabled as a possible option to temporarily relocate patients of Ward 4 at Dr Gray's. Picture: Daniel Forsyth
The Muirton Ward at Seafield Hospital in Buckie had been tabled as a possible option to temporarily relocate patients of Ward 4 at Dr Gray's. Picture: Daniel Forsyth

Moray MSP Richard Lochhead says that he is "hugely disappointed" that the projects have been paused adding that he is seeking an urgent meeting with NHS Grampian's interim chief executive.

Mr Lochhead said: "The whole public sector is Scotland is facing huge challenges and difficult decisions in terms of infrastructure projects due to the huge cuts to the Scottish Government’s capital budget by the Conservative UK Government.

“The Scottish Fiscal Commission has been clear that the capital budget for Scotland has been cut by 4 per cent in real terms.

"This comes at the same time of incredibly high inflation due to the economic mismanagement by the UK Government.

“I don’t understand why Moray’s Tory MP is not shouting from the rooftops for his UK colleagues to increase Scotland’s capital budget rather than cutting it.

“As local MSP, I have long campaigned for NHS Grampian to invest in facilities at Dr Gray’s, including leading the campaign for an MRI scanner for Moray which is now in the pipeline.

“I’m therefore hugely disappointed that these projects are now on pause even if it’s only for a short time and I am seeking an urgent meeting with NHS Grampian’s interim chief executive."

MSP Richard Lochhead. Picture: Daniel Forsyth
MSP Richard Lochhead. Picture: Daniel Forsyth

Moray MP Douglas Ross has described the news as a "hammer blow" for patients in the area and has laid the blame with the Scottish Government.

He claims Scotland's finances have been "grossly mismanaged" and has called on the government and NHS Grampian to be "fully upfront" on when work will restart on the projects.

Mr Ross said: "All too often on the SNP’s watch, it is rural and remote healthcare services who get hit hardest and this latest major setback reaffirms that.

“This announcement will cause huge worry among patients across the area.

"The onus is on SNP ministers and NHS Grampian to be fully upfront as to when they expect work on this MRI Suite to restart and when the review into refurbishment plans for the mental health ward to be completed.

“There is simply no excuse for keeping people in the dark following this shocking announcement.”

Moray MP Douglas Ross. Picture: Daniel Forsyth
Moray MP Douglas Ross. Picture: Daniel Forsyth

The news comes after it was revealed that hundreds of medical records were destroyed by a sewage leak at Dr Gray's last week.

And it is understood a Health Improvement Scotland report will be published on February 1 following an unannounced inspection of Dr Gray's Hospital last October.


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