A health centre in the Highlands has opened thanks to cash from the local community, Highland Council and NHS Highland.
The official opening duties of the new Cill Chuimein Medical Centre in Fort Augustus, were undertaken by Mairi Gougeon MSP, the minister for rural affairs and the natural environment.
The new medical centre secures a local GP service to the area, avoiding residents having a 60-mile round trip to visit a doctor and allows for an expansion of services to include podiatry and optical specialists.
The site will also be used to trial the new Near Me service, a video consulting service for outpatient appointments linking you to a consultant or other specialist.
The new centre was built after the former facility was destroyed by a ferocious blaze in October 2015.
SSE Renewables who put provide £600,000 into the pot for the centre said it was “extremely proud” to have helped to fund the £1million building, through funds associated with SSE Renewables’ projects in the area.
The development and construction of the new centre has been driven by Fort Augustus and Glenmoriston Community Company, chairman Harry Whiteside, said: “It’s been just over two years in the making, and now we have a medical centre double the size of the last one, meaning more people can be seen in a day and allowing the centre to expand beyond just GP services, into other services like podiatry and optometry.
“None of this would have been possible without the help of all our funders, in particular SSE Renewables, who allowed us to draw down additional funding from the Bhlaraidh Wind Farm Fund, so we could bridge the final funding gap for this project and get it developed and delivered quickly.”
Now that the centre is up and running it is expected that it will secure up to 10 long term jobs for the local community.
In September 2016, members of the Highland Council agreed to award £50,000 from the council’s Capital Discretionary Fund towards the cost of rebuilding the medical centre.
Councillor Margaret Davidson, the leader of Highland Council, said: “This is a major achievement for localism – and local people making a difference in their own communities for themselves.”
NHS Highland also contributed £10,000 towards the project.
NHS Highland chief executive Iain Stewart added: “This is fantastic achievement by the Fort Augustus and Glenmoriston Community Centre and a great example of partnership working here in Highland.”