Save Our Surgeries Campaign Group shocked by underhand Hopeman GP Surgery sale
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THE Save Our Surgeries campaign group have spoken of their shock after discovering the Hopeman doctors surgery would be demolished, without prior notice of the sale.
Work began to fence off the the building at around 6.30am on Saturday, October 28, with signs indicating that the building, which had housed the village's GP practice since 1989, would soon be demolished.
The building was owned by Moray Coast Medical Practice, who decided not to reopen the two branch surgeries in Hopeman and Burghead following their closure during the Covid-19 pandemic. The campaigners from the Save Our Surgeries group have been fighting for more than a year to re-instate the GP services in the two villages.
Members of the campaign group said they were shocked to discover the building had been sold and had received no notice of the sale, despite working closely with health services in the region.
Dennis Slater from the group said: "The SOS group have been fighting for more than a year now to save our surgeries and keep doctors in the community. We have been working closely with these people and were shocked to find out they had fenced it all off. We thought they would have the decency to contact us and let us know that the building was going up for sale and offer the community of Hopeman an opportunity to buy it. It's so underhand and happened completely behind our backs.
"When the building was bought by the doctors surgery, they were sold the building at a reduced price. They knocked around a third of the price off, because the building was to be used to benefit the community of Hopeman, I feel strongly that they should have discussed this with the community and that a percentage of the sale should be used for the good of the community."
Moray Coast Medical Practice confirmed that a private sale of the building, on Hopeman's Harbour Street, was completed on Friday, October 27.
A spokesperson for the Moray Coast Medical Practice said: “Notification was given to Health & Social Care Moray at the end of August 2023 that we did not intend to reopen the Hopeman premises, which we owned, and that we were terminating the lease of the Burghead premises. Neither premises has been in use since March 2020.
“We can confirm the Hopeman site has been sold and any plans for its development will be a matter for the new owner.
“The proceeds of the sale will support the continuing provision of health care for our practice population.”
Moray MP Douglas Ross has also been working with the campaign group and was outraged by the quiet sale of the building. He said: “This sleekit decision to apparently sell-off the GP surgery in Hopeman is utterly outrageous. I share the fury from local campaigners about suddenly seeing construction works and fencing around the village surgery.
“Local residents have been fighting tirelessly to re-open their surgery, yet they have now had the rug pulled from under them. This is a total slap in the face for them and is a decision that shows Moray Coast Medical Practice were clearly never interested in their campaign.
“Those campaigners should have been the first to be informed if the surgery was going to be sold off, not the last. Keeping them in the dark is simply disgraceful.
"It seems the promises for better communication with the community were completely false and the local practice, IJB and Scottish Government need to explain why they have ignored local communities and withheld crucial information from them."
The sale of the building now means there is no doctors surgery in Hopeman but the Save Our Surgeries group are determined to continue their campaign for GP care in the community and the group plans to deliver their signed petition to the Scottish Parliment in Edinburgh.
Mr Slater added: "We as a group are still committed to the cause and thinking positive. We will keep going and continue to fight for our communities."