Edinburgh firm behind development in Gilmerton offers part of site to be new medical centre

The family-run business behind a new development at Gilmerton is offering to allocate part of the site for a new medical centre to help tackle a shortage of GP services in an area where the population is booming.

By Ian Swanson
Tuesday, 29th March 2022, 4:55 am

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Crane and metal recycling company Bernard Hunter Ltd say the medical centre could be located next to the bus terminus in their £25 million Gilmerton Gateway development.

The company has met the health board to discuss the proposal and is waiting to hear their response.

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Bernard Hunter Ltd won approval in principle in 2019 to develop their land with business start-up units, a food store, neighbourhood shops and community facilities. Detailed proposals for the first phase are currently going through the planning process.

It is thought the medical centre would be part of the second phase which could come forward as early as next year, and it is hoped a new pharmacy and a new veterinary centre would also feature.

Managing director Jim Rafferty said: “We’ve watched many hundreds of new houses going up in the area, but we thought there was a shortage of new facilities to properly serve those homes.

"Our development at Gilmerton Gateway has been carefully designed to provide a home for the shopping, health, and other community facilities that Gilmerton needs. We can offer the NHS the prime site right next to the bus terminus.

Bernard Hunter Ltd workers helping the Friends of Burdiehouse Burn Valley Park and Murrays residents upgrade a path beside the Murrays in South Edinburgh.

"We stand ready to meet NHS Lothian again at any time.”

And Edinburgh South Labour MP Ian Murray is backing the idea.

Earlier this month Mr Murray highlighted the pressure on medical services resulting from the new housing developments in the area and accused the SNP of blocking attempts to tackle the problem

He revealed a letter from NHS Lothian which said a request was made to the Scottish Government in 2020 for a new medical practice in Gilmerton, but "no decision has been reached on this, or on any of the population-related proposals which have been made".

Mr Murray said 11 out of the 14 GP practices in south Edinburgh were operating restricted lists because of the increasing demand, which is already 4,000 patients over capacity, and only one practice in Liberton/Gilmerton was taking on new patients, although 7,500 new homes were being built there.

"Other people, like Bernard Hunter Ltd, are now saying they’re happy to build the infrastructure to take care of the existing 4,000 patients as well as capacity for some new ones, but they can’t get any movement.

"If NHS Lothian got round the table with the company they could get this built quite soon because they already have approval in principle. It's a good scheme in the right place at the right time.”

But he said a key part of the problem was likely to be the difficulty of recruiting staff because of a general shortage of GPs.

The Gilmerton Gateway development was approved after attracting no objections from the local community and strong support from residents, the community council and local politicians.

The first phase plans include a new supermarket and business units as well as Scotland’s first purpose-built community archery facility and a new home for fitness club, Club McKendry.

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