The preliminary business case to build a £18 million complex to replace the crumbling hospital and care home on Barra has been approved.
Proposals for an health and social care hub on the same campus are being brought forward under a partnership between Western Isles Health Board and Comhairle nan Eilean Siar.
The outline business case was passed yesterday by a Scottish Government team.
A new build at St Brendan’s hospital and adjoining care home was deemed very urgently required ten years ago but delays set in.
Progress stalled but outstanding issues were resolved last summer and the project brought back on track.
The existing facility has been described as “completely unacceptable” for modern standards by health board bosses.
Over £100,000 was spent to try and improve conditions but the facility is still considered not fit for purpose for delivering modern, safe and effective healthcare.
In place of the present care home, there would be a sheltered housing complex with 10 self-contained supported-living flats with ensuite bathrooms and showers.
Isles MSP Alasdair Allan said he is “delighted” at progress being made.
The MSP said: “Despite the excellent service provided by NHS staff, it has been recognised for the better part of a decade that the current facilities are simply unfit for purpose.
“A new hospital is desperately needed and this is something that the community in Barra have been united in their support of.
“People in Barra have waited too long for this to happen and I have made no secret of my frustration about the delays to the project.”
Cllr Donald Manford said: “Securing outline business case approval for Barra’s hospital is the huge step forward we have been striving towards for so long.
“This breakthrough has been achieved following the recent meeting in Barra with officers of the Scottish Government’s capital investment group, and on behalf of our community my sincere thanks to them.”