MacNeil calls for public consultation on St Brendans

Western Isles MP, Angus B MacNeil is inviting NHS Western Isles and Comhairle nan Eilean Siar to come to Barra to consult with islanders regarding the St Brendan’s Development.

This comes following the announcement that NHS Western Isles have narrowed down the options for the St Brendan’s development from eight to two.

Mr MacNeil said: “I am happy to see that progress continues to be made on the much needed provision of a hospital and care home on the Isle of Barra. However, I am disappointed that a public meeting has not been held to keep islanders updated and to ensure that the choice of site is felt to be the best possible.

“Since November 2009, I have written six times to the Health Board and Comhairle leaders asking them to come to Barra for a public meeting to develop consensus of the site for a new St Brendan’s. Many feel the current site is not central in the community and it is difficult for people who are there to leave the building and interact with others.

“A number of voices have also indicated unhappiness at placing the GP surgery there due to the peripheral nature of the site. This would indicate that if many able- bodied feel it isn’t very central, it is also too peripheral for less able people, which might include us all someday.

“People in Barra are asking me where the public consultation is and I am writing to the Comhairle and the Health Board again, to come to Barra very soon to meet and consult publically, so that the right choice is made on the new St Brendan’s, which will be there for decades to come.”

AT yesterday’s (Thursday) Board meeting, members considered eight options contained within a feasibility study, which explored the technical possibilities for upgrading the hospital and care home.

The preferred options would both provide a healthcare facility with accident and emergency provision and a care home on the current St Brendan’s site. One of the options would also include a GP surgery. The Board agreed that the two options should be developed into a full business case, but stressed that a full health, clinical and care needs assessment to identify exactly what provision would be needed in any new build, would need to be carried out as a priority as part of the business case.

There was therefore no indication, agreement or discussion regarding what may be included in any potential new development in terms of inpatient or social care beds. The clinical and care needs assessment will be vital to inform the development of any future proposals.

The same next stage now requires approval by the joint (Council and Health Board) Health and Social Care Committee today (Friday), and then by the Comhairle’s Policy and Resources Committee next Thursday.