The Health Secretary has confirmed work on the future of Insch War Memorial Hospital will resume later this year.
Humza Yousaf says it will restart at some point in 2023, once the NHS’s “immediate system pressures” have reduced.
The community hospital was mothballed in 2020 at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, with staff redeployed elsewhere.
It’s yet to reopen and health bosses now say it’s no longer fit for purpose.
And there are question marks as to what could happen next.
What’s the current situation?
Last year a total of 10 options for the future of the site were identified and analysed.
The highest scoring ideas centred around a new-build hospital for inpatient care.
Local health bosses said they’d continue looking at this in more detail, with a view to submitting a formal funding request to the Scottish Government.
They also agreed to keep consulting on the creation of a “wellbeing hub” and clinical space which wouldn’t need additional cash.
At the same time, the Friends of Insch Hospital have been fundraising for an extension which could solve all their problems.
The group wants a new 12-bed unit, with 12 en-suite bathrooms, to be built on the side of the building’s day room.
The existing hospital could then be used as the wellbeing centre.
Surveyors estimate the project would cost around £900,000, and the group says it already has half the money needed.
Work to resume
Mr Yousaf said the Insch War Memorial Hospital engagement work will resume this year “once immediate system pressures have reduced to provide management capacity for this.”
In a letter to Scottish Conservative MSP Alexander Burnett, he wrote: “This work will include an options appraisal putting the options for Insch Hospital within the wider locality context, including services to be provided at Inverurie and Huntly.
“(It also takes) account of the potential for a community treatment and assessment centre, use by the community and volunteer organisations and by secondary care on an outreach basis.”
Mr Burnett described the current situation as “disappointing”.
He added: “His response is that the current pressures facing the health service are too great for anything real or measurable to be achieved.
“That is concerning, especially given the fact that community beds have been raised as an important way for the current issues to be addressed.”