A north-east campaign group has slammed a survey helping decide the future of a near-century-old hospital as “impossible” to complete.
Insch War Memorial Hospital was temporarily shut in March 2020 as health bosses said it couldn’t operate safely amid Covid-19 restrictions.
It is now being considered as part of a wider review into health and social care in the area, with residents invited to share their views.
Aberdeenshire Health and Social Care Partnership (AHSCP) says the 11-bed facility cannot reopen until the strategic needs assessment is carried out.
But campaigners fear a lack of questions about the hospital in the survey polling their opinions will stop it from ever reopening, with resources diverted elsewhere.
‘Little reference’ to Insch services
Allison Grant, vice chairwoman for the Friends of Insch Hospital, has revealed “grave concerns” about the process.
“The survey, which is a key part of a consultation that will decide the future of Insch War Memorial Hospital, mentions the currently closed hospital only once, and asks no direct question about its future,” she said.
“Many questions within the survey focus on the priorities in the AHSCP strategic plan and are impossible for members of the public to answer.
“They simply would not be aware of or have access to the information which would enable them to answer.”
‘The questions don’t make sense’
Allison found the survey asks just two questions about Insch – asking if respondents live there, and about the local healthcare facilities they’ve used since 2018.
She said: “These include some of the services that were provided by the hospital, but which have been unavailable locally because of its closure for almost half that period.
“Another question asks about local groups used to ‘support your physical and mental health and wellbeing’.
“Some of which, such as the Bennachie Leisure Centre in Insch, have been closed for a similar length of time due to the pandemic.
“Overall, the questionnaire makes little reference to the future use of Insch Memorial Hospital which remains empty of any inpatients since March 202.
“Up to that point (it) played a fundamental and vital role in meeting the health care needs of many throughout rural Aberdeenshire, over its 99-year history.”
Alison said many residents have contacted the Friends of Insch Hospital since the launch of the project, saying the survey is “disappointing” and “the questions don’t make sense”.
However, the health and social care partnership said the survey is just one part of a much larger process.
Down the line, this will include focus groups and further consultations.
A spokeswoman said: “The survey has received an encouraging response so far, with more than 1,500 people or groups registering with their feedback.
“We continue to encourage members of the Insch community to get involved.”
The survey must be completed online, or in paper form, by August 29.
Further information on the assessment can be accessed by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org