Tuesday 21 May 2024
 7.2°C   ESE Light Breeze
Ocean Kinetics - The Engineering Experts

Health / Health secretary understands need for new hospital but wider financial challenges remain

THE SCOTTISH health secretary says he understands the need for a new hospital in Shetland despite the government’s financial challenges.

Neil Gray, whose brief also includes social care, was speaking on Wednesday as part of a trip to Shetland in which he visited the Gilbert Bain Hospital in Lerwick as well as a care home and medical practice.

The SNP MSP also spoke to the local NHS team and Shetland Islands Council leader Emma Macdonald.

Health secretary Neil Gray (middle) with NHS Shetland chairman Gary Robinson and SIC leader Emma Macdonald. Photo: BBC Radio Shetland

Work continues in the background on the prospect of a replacement Gilbert Bain given the hospital’s increasing age.

But it emerged recently that the Scottish Government had put NHS construction projects on hold due to budget pressures.

That led to NHS Shetland chairman Gary Robinson saying he believed it was still a case of “when, not if” the isles got a new hospital.

Gray, who represents Airdrie and Shotts but is originally from Orkney, said the government is not pausing projects because it does not understand the need.

He told BBC Radio Shetland: “I clearly do [understand the need] and there was previous support for work to be done to start to advance that for the Gilbert Bain.”

But Gray said the financial reality the government faces is increased inflation, particularly on construction.

The cabinet secretary also said the Scottish Government is receiving less from Westminster for capital projects.

“It’s a financial reality that we cannot bridge that gap,” Gray said.

“We need to look at reviewing those projects. But we’re not sitting back and just accepting that they cannot happen – we’re working across government to look at alternative forms of finance so that some of these projects can go ahead.”

He added that all NHS construction projects have “demonstrated their need” but said there will need to be difficult conversations about which ones come first.

Become a supporter of Shetland News

Shetland News is asking its many readers to consider start paying for their dose of the latest local news delivered straight to their PC, tablet or mobile phone.

Journalism comes at a price and because that price is not being paid in today’s rapidly changing media world, most publishers - national and local - struggle financially despite very healthy audience figures.

Most online publishers have started charging for access to their websites, others have chosen a different route. Shetland News currently has  over 600 supporters  who are all making small voluntary financial contributions. All funds go towards covering our cost and improving the service further.

Your contribution will ensure Shetland News can: -

  • Bring you the headlines as they happen;
  • Stay editorially independent;
  • Give a voice to the community;
  • Grow site traffic further;
  • Research and publish more in-depth news, including more Shetland Lives features.

If you appreciate what we do and feel strongly about impartial local journalism, then please become a supporter of Shetland News by either making a single payment or monthly subscription.

Support us from as little as £3 per month – it only takes a minute to sign up. Thank you.



Subscribe to a selection of different newsletters from Shetland News, varying from breaking news delivered on the minute, to a weekly round-up of the opinion posts. All delivered straight to your inbox.

Daily Briefing Newsletter Weekly Highlights Newsletter Opinion Newsletter Life in Shetland Newsletter

JavaScript Required

We're sorry, but Shetland News isn't fully functional without JavaScript enabled.
Head over to the help page for instructions on how to enable JavaScript on your browser.

Your Privacy

We use cookies on our site to improve your experience.
By using our service, you agree to our Privacy Policy and Cookie Policy.

Browser is out-of-date

Shetland News isn't fully functional with this version of .
Head over to the help page for instructions on updating your browser for more security, improved speed and the best overall experience on this site.

Interested in Notifications?

Get notifications from Shetland News for important and breaking news.
You can unsubscribe at any time.

Become a supporter of Shetland News

We're committed to ensuring everyone has equitable access to impartial, open and quality local journalism that benefits all residents.

By supporting Shetland News, you play a vital role in ensuring we remain a pivotal resource in supporting the community.

Support us from as little as £3 per month – it only takes a minute to sign up. Thank you.