Healthcare campaigners and charities were up in arms yesterday after it emerged a Peterhead hospital could close.
Aberdeenshire Health and Social Care Partnership is reviewing the treatment currently being delivered at Ugie.
The 111-year-old facility provides 14 inpatient beds for elderly people who have been in hospital in Aberdeen and need more rehabilitation before going home.
According to official documents just under two thirds of patients are from Peterhead with the rest coming from the wider Buchan area, Ellon and Fraserburgh.
The partnership is considering six options for the future and holding a public meeting to canvass opinion next week.
But while “investment and modernisation” is listed first, health chiefs make clear that option is “costly” and has no funds set aside for it.
“Consideration would have to be given as to whether Ugie is in the right location and provides easy access to the whole of the area,” they add.
Another idea involves using additional inpatient beds at Peterhead Community Hospital and Fraserburgh Hospital.
Jamie Weir, a retired NHS Grampian board member and spokesman for the patient care group PACT said it is vital to consider the needs of local patients before any financial concerns.
He said: “Whatever the final decision on the options listed, it is important that it reflects the needs of the local population and provides the best services to patients in the area.
“The decision should also take in account the clinical priorities for patients and not be purely financial as the demands of an increasing elderly population call for careful consideration of the requirement for future services.”
A boss from one of the country’s leading charities said transport should also be a factor in the decision making process.
Adam Stachura from Age Scotland said: “We have heard from a number of older people throughout Aberdeenshire who have difficulty travelling to their nearest hospital.
“If beds are moved to alternative locations, then we hope that the transport needs of patients and their families are taken into account.”
A public information event showcasing each of the the proposals is being held at Peterhead’s Rescue Hall between 3pm and 7pm next Tuesday, April 17.
A spokesman for the Aberdeenshire Health and Social Care Partnership said: “As part of a drive to deliver better, more holistic and patient-centred services across Aberdeenshire, we are reviewing the services delivered from Ugie Hospital.
“We have put six options to the public for their consideration. However, within those options, people will have an opportunity to put forward their own views of what they would like to see.
“We will be in a much better position to see what Peterhead residents want once the public meeting on has taken place and the survey has concluded.”
NHS Grampian said they would contribute to the consultation but that a final decision will come from the integrated joint board.