A north-east community united yesterday to slam proposals to close its hospital.
Aberdeenshire Health and Social Care Partnership is reviewing inpatient services at the 111-year-old Ugie facility.
It provides 14 beds for elderly people who have been in hospital in Aberdeen but need more rehabilitation before going home.
They are considering six different options for the site – five of which would likely lead to the hospital’s closure – and a public meeting was held yesterday to give people a chance to look at the different ideas.
Partnership bosses have said “no decisions” have been taken but the sixth option – the single option that would save Ugie – has already been described as too expensive.
At an exhibition in the town’s Rescue Hall, Kevin Oliphant from Inverugie said the facility in Peterhead was needed because it eases the pressure on services at Aberdeen Royal Infirmary.
He said: “I think the Ugie does a really a good job.
“It frees acute beds in ARI by enabling people that still need rehabilitation to receive it in their own community.
“We have a facility here in the community with dedicated staff who deliver a good service. We should be allowing them to continue.
“The option to offer beds in some care homes is certainly a non-starter.
“People are very concerned about this.
Derek Fretwell from Peterhead said he was unable to support any of the options being showcased by the partnership.
He questioned whether it had provided enough answers to allow locals to make an informed decision.
Mr Fretwell said: “They have got the six options there but they haven’t adequately explained any of them.
“It all just seems totally airy fairy.
“Where will we be going? Will we be expected to travel to Aberdeen on buses that we can’t climb the stairs of?
“They need to knock it down and build a whole new hospital and have all the facilities under one roof, but we know that won’t happen. That is a dream.”
One woman, who did want to be named, said that people who are expecting to become future patients at Ugie are worried about the changes.
She said: “We are the next generation of older people and we are very worried about this.
“Everyone is here tonight to try and keep the hospital open.”
Turriff councillor Anne Stirling is the chairwoman of the joint integrated board, which will make the final decision on the hospitals future.
She said: “The purpose of this event is to engage.
“We want to be very open and feed what we hear back to the board.
“Everyone knows more social care and health provision will be needed as people are living for longer.
“No decisions about Ugie hospital have been taken. This is about making sure we meet the needs in the future.”
NHS Grampian said that while it will contribute to the consultation process a final decision will come from the integrated joint board.
A survey on the proposals is open until the end of this month.
It can be found at https://pcocomplaints.limequery.com/index.php/362697/lang-en.