A new Moray health centre will finally open next month, after a series of “unforeseen construction issues” delayed the project.
Health chiefs last night apologised to patients and staff, saying they shared their frustrations at the “costly design complications” that have held up the £5.5million Forres Health and Care Centre.
It will now officially open on September 8.
A spokeswoman said: “Unforeseen construction issues, beyond the control of NHS Grampian, led to delays to the opening of the new Forres Health and Care Centre.
“However the building is now in the commissioning phase. This process includes deep cleaning, the installation of equipment and staff training. It will open to see it’s first patients on Monday, September, 8.
“We appreciate the delays around this project have been frustrating for practice staff and patients. We share that frustration.
“However, we are confident that we will deliver a state of the art facility that people in Forres will be proud of.”
When work started on the site in June last year, developers set a target of April, 2014, for completion.
The public and private sector partnership behind the health centre, Hub North Scotland Ltd (Hubco), is also leading the £18million project to replace Elgin High School.
Senior Hubco officials apologised to Moray Council for delays in the school development in December and were tackled about communication issues and “hiccups” at the Forres scheme.
Last night former Forres Community Council chairman John Bremner welcomed news of the official opening – but raised concerns about transport links.
“I think they had some problems, I heard it got flooded at the beginning of the week, but we never got told much at all about it really,” he said.
“The new health centre will make a difference, but to a lot of folk it’s awfully far out of the way, especially for people in the Forbes Hill area.
“If they have to get taxis, it will cost a fortune.”
Councillor for Forres, Lorna Creswell, who is also chair of Moray Council’s health and social care committee, said she was optimistic about the new health facilities but shared Mr Bremner’s transport concerns.
She said: “I’m really looking forward to it being open. It will be an amazing facility to have.
“The old health centre will fold, and there’s lots of departments in the new building, so it’s going to be great.
“However, we will need to reassess the transport situation. Some of our older folk have said travel will be an issue because it’s a bit out of the town but, we will look at that.”
The NHS Grampian spokeswoman said: “A travel plan was incorporated into the initial project, and a bus route goes right past the front doors and there is a stop about 50 yards away from the practice.”
The facility will replace the current Forres Health Centre and the ambulatory and rehabilitative services at Leanchoil Hospital.
It will include two GP practices, community nursing and midwifery services, community care, outpatient services, radiology and ambulatory services, and a range of rehabilitation and therapy services.