First Minister Humza Yousaf has said there are no plans to replace Raigmore Hospital in the near future.
On Monday, a public petition began garnering signatures in support of a new acute general teaching hospital for the Highlands at Raigmore.
The First Minister has previously admitted the Inverness hospital needs ‘significant investment’.
“We’re not looking at replacing Raigmore right now. We’re, of course, looking to see what more we can do to support Raigmore, where we can add to it, where we can invest in Raigmore, and we will absolutely look to do that,” Yousaf said.
However, Highlands and Islands MSP Edward Mountain, who opened the petition, said a stronger commitment is needed.
“Raigmore is only going to age further, and a large-scale replacement project could take years to deliver. However, we could save years of time if we begin developing plans and consulting with communities for a replacement right now.
“I’m confident that we if build enough public pressure through this petition, then calls to replace Raigmore will be impossible to ignore,” Mountain added.
The Scottish Government has already committed £5m to upgrading maternity services at Raigmore Hospital.
“We, of course, are investing in Raigmore. I announced as health secretary additional investment for Raigmore, particularly in relation to its maternity services. We’ll continue to invest in important hospitals like Raigmore,” Yousaf added.
“I’ll, of course, consider any petition. But in a time when we have really finite capital resources, finite resources full stop actually, we’ve got to make sure we’re targeting the places that need it the most.”
A further investment of £48.6m has been spent on the new Highland National Treatment Centre in Inverness.
The hospital will specialise in eye care and orthopaedics, including knee and hip replacements.
It is part of a network of ten similar centres around Scotland backed by the Scottish Government to deliver added resilience to NHS services.
A Scottish Government spokesman said: “We have invested £48m in NHS Highland’s National Treatment Centre, which opened on the Inverness campus last month.
“It will help reduce waiting times for patients undergoing orthopaedic and ophthalmology procedures such as hip replacements and cataract surgery.
“This follows the Scottish Government’s investment of over £40m in two community hospitals in Badenoch and Strathspey and Skye, Lochalsh, and South West Ross, which both opened last year.
“We continue to work closely with NHS Highland to identify the best way forward for health infrastructure in the area.”
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