Work will begin on a new £1.5 million GP practice to replace a struggling village surgery whose only full-time doctor is off sick.
Patients at Ratho surgery have faced mixed-up prescriptions, cancellations and lengthy waits for appointments at the tiny practice, which has been deemed not fit for purpose.
A new purpose-built surgery was due to open its doors in Wilkieston Road during the summer but lengthy contract negotiations meant that construction has been delayed until January 2017.
The two-storey facility, which will have five consulting rooms and a treatment room, is expected to be completed by next winter.
However concerns have been raised over the interim period as the sole permanent doctor is unwell and the practice is being staffed by locums.
Kate Watt, secretary of Ratho and District Community Council, said: “We have a number of long-term locums, but I think the community is looking forward to the new, bigger facility where we can have more than one doctor working at the same time.
“One of the problems is there is only one consulting room so it is difficult to have more than one doctor working at a time.
“It is difficult to imagine the next few months, as everyone is looking forward to the doctor coming back but we just don’t know.
“Residents are excited that progress is being made on this.
“It has been a long time coming.”
The news comes amid a nationwide GP recruitment crisis, which has forced nearly a third of Lothian 124 practices to restrict their patient lists to cope with rising levels of demand.
The Evening News revealed last month that NHS bosses warned that half of all Lothian surgeries could soon be turning away new patients in a top-level briefing to MSPs.
Rob McCulloch-Graham, chief officer of the Edinburgh Health and Social Care Partnership, said: “This is a significant day for the people of Ratho who can now look forward to having a new GP surgery in the village.
“Lots of hard work has gone into this project and I’m delighted to announce that work will start in January, and will open to patients in winter 2017.
“We are pleased to have come to an agreement with the Kiltane Group to develop the site at Wilkieston Road, and look forward to seeing the surgery welcome its first patients next year.”
Mark Keane, from The Kiltane Group, which is developing the site with NHS Lothian, moved to reassure residents that the surgery would be able to cope with demand caused by housebuilding in the area.
He said: “We look forward to the delivery of a first class medical facility for the people of Ratho.
“I’m confident it will have the capacity to meet the expansion plans of the village over the longer term.”
The current property will be demolished and a new facility built on the site.