The issue of the replacement of St Brendan’s hospital and care home on Barra was raised with Health Secretary Jeane Freeman by Na h-Eileanan an Iar SNP MSP Alasdair Allan during yesterday’s session of the Scottish Parliament.

It has been recognised since 2011 that there is a need for the facility to be replaced. 

NHS Western Isles and Comhairle nan Eilean Siar are currently considering proposals which would integrate the current hospital, health and social care development with that of replacing Castlebay community school and other Comhairle services in Barra.

Alasdair Allan MSP said:“This was a useful opportunity to again raise the replacement of St Brendan’s and the need for the community to be properly informed and involved as the project develops.

“Next week marks an important milestone, as the Comhairle is due to meet to consider the options outlined by the feasibility study. This represents significant potential for the development of public services in Barra and Vatersay, and there is increasing evidence of collaboration and partnership between the Council, Health Board and Scottish Government in the development of this project.

“I am grateful for the Cabinet Secretary’s continued assurances that St Brendan’s will be replaced at the earliest opportunity. The community in Barra and Vatersay have already waited long enough.”

Jeane Freeman said: "Work is under way between the health board, the council and the integration joint board to determine the best approach for delivery of the hospital project and the Castlebay community hub. That joint work must ensure that public infrastructure best meets the needs of the local population and provides an effective and sustainable health and education resource for the future.

"The feasibility study was recently completed and a decision on the preferred way forward is expected to be taken very soon. Along with the health board and the council, we remain committed to delivering the St Brendan’s re-provision at the earliest opportunity.

"We can agree on two important points in relation to the project. First, it is vital that a decision is taken quickly and that the health board and the council take the appropriate steps to implement the recommendation as quickly as possible. Second, the local community absolutely needs to be fully involved and engaged with the whole process, including the design of any new build. The Scottish Government remains fully committed to the project and I expect senior leadership at the health board and the council to move it forward and to deliver against the agreed timescales."