Article in The Courier about Public Meeting 23/01/2022 by Graham Brown


Brechin public meeting called over future direction of community health hub plan

 By Graham Brown

January 23 2022, 9.15am


Brechin Healthcare Group secretary Nilima Pithu and chairman Grahame Lockhart at the old infirmary. Pic: Mhairi Edwards/DCT Media.

Brechin Healthcare Group secretary Nilima Puthu and chairman Grahame Lockhart at the old infirmary. Pic: Mhairi Edwards/DCT Media.

And they hope there will be a good local turnout to a meeting set for next week.

It comes after Brechin Healthcare Group learned Scottish Ministers had rejected their appeal against NHS Tayside’s refusal for a community asset transfer of the infirmary site.

BHG wanted to buy the hospital for £150,000 and turn it into a community health and wellbeing hub.

The aim was to offer access there to a range of health and wellbeing services, including social prescribing activities.

But the case reporter agreed with the NHS board that there were major questions around the sustainability of the project.

BHG said it was “disappointed and angry” over the appeal outcome.

Its chairman said the group’s future was uncertain, but members have now rallied to set up the public meeting.

Good turnout hoped for

It is being held in St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church Hall, Brechin on Wednesday January 26 at 7pm.

BHG secretary Nilima Puthu said: “As a group, we have decided to see how we can develop BHG’s work to further benefit the community of Brechin, Edzell and The Glens.”

It operates the Jenner Centre in Brechin town centre, but has only a short lease for the premises.

Jenner CentreBHG trustees Alison Cameron, Nilima Puthu and Joyce Galt in the Jenner Centre. Pic: Mhairi Edwards/DCT Media.She added: “We need to identify what folk need and what they want.

“And where we can consider other locations to continue, and add to, what we have been successfully providing at the Jenner Centre.”

Surplus to requirements

The health group was formed in 2015 and set its sights on the infirmary when the hospital was declared surplus to NHS Tayside requirements in 2018.

But BHG said it was in a Catch-22 situation over its plan.

It had backers waiting in the wings, but could not give firm financial guarantees because it did not own the building.

Brechin InfirmaryThe Brechin Infirmary building. Pic: Paul Reid.The infirmary requires hundreds of thousands of pounds worth of repairs.

And it is costing the health authority more than £30,000 a year to keep the deteriorating buildings wind and watertight.

NHS Tayside is now considering options for its future.

It has been valued at more than £650,000 as a cleared development site so could face the open market and demolition