A project manager has been appointed to move forward plans for a Keith’s new medical centre.
Susan Pellegrom will be tasked with developing a blueprint for what should be included in the new facility.
Patients in the town have previously expressed their concerns about the condition of the current local GP practice and Turner Memorial Hospital.
Parts of the aging complex are now not suitable for people in wheelchairs, while some rooms are not able to house modern equipment.
Campaigners have long pressed for a new facility to be built in Keith and a site has been identified near the town’s secondary school for it to be constructed on.
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Leon Stelmach, chairman of the practice’s patient participation group, which represents the centre’s 7,000 patients, hailed the appointment of Mrs Pellegrom as a “huge milestone” for them.
He said: “The current Keith premises are well past its sell-by date and this is very good news for everyone.
“Now all we need is for the local people to speak up and come forward to tell her what they want to see done.
“There is still a good bit of work to be done but I am very heartened by this and we are a lot further forward than we have been before.”
NHS Grampian allocated money to employ a project manager at the end of last year.
Mrs Pellegrom comes with a wealth of experience, as she is a former practice manager at the current Keith Health Centre.
Moray MSP Richard Lochhead has been long been involved in this campaign and hailed this news as a “positive step forward.”
He said: “The patient participation group have worked tirelessly on their campaign and I’ve supported their efforts by having discussions with the relevant public agencies, including the health secretary’s visit to the health centre, to make the case for a new health centre.
“Now that we have a project manager in post to take forward plans we will hopefully be able to focus minds on the next steps and developing a good business case for a new facility.”
Pam Gowans, chief officer at Moray Health & Social Care Partnership, said: “I am delighted by the appointment and look forward to working closely with Susan, the community, and the local services to set out the future for Keith. This is an exciting opportunity for the whole town.”