THE first phase of the new East Lothian Community Hospital could be up and running by the end of 2017.

Preparations towards a new multi-million-pound hospital in Haddington are ongoing.

No site has been confirmed for the hospital but a presentation given in North Berwick last week highlighted Roodlands Hospital, on Haddington’s Hospital Road, as a potential site.

The next step in the £70 million plans is for the Initial Agreement to be signed off by the Scottish Government.

That document sets out the “strategic intentions” and examines options, including the location and cost.

David Small, joint director, East Lothian Health and Social Care Partnership, said: “Plans for the new East Lothian Community Hospital are progressing well and we are on course to submit our Initial Agreement to the Scottish Government this summer.

“We have, and will continue to consult with local patient groups, visitors and the people of East Lothian as the process to develop this important new hospital gathers pace.

“Plans for the hospital, including its exact location, timescales and services, are still to be fully finalised and these will be included in our Initial Agreement document.

“What we can say is that there will be an overall increase in capacity at the new hospital and that some services currently provided outside East Lothian are likely to be provided locally.

“This is an exciting development which we are committed to delivering and the support of the local communities in East Lothian is vital as we move ahead with these plans.” The presentation by Mr Small, Miriam Anderson, business and capital manager, and Andrew Milne, capital planning, outlined plans and ambitions for the new hospital.

Twenty people attended, with Mr Milne describing the target of late 2017 as “do-able”.

As part of the planning and scoping exercise and the initial agreement, NHS Lothian is looking at what facilities will go within the new East Lothian Community Hospital.

Services currently based within Herdmanflat, such as adult and older people’s mental health services and learning disabilities services, are expected to be relocated to the new hospital.

Other medical facilities – including carers of East Lothian and Macmillan, GP practices, outpatient departments and 14 beds relating to a day surgery unit – were also included in the presentation and could form part of the new hospital.

At the same time, various other aspects, such as a pharmacy, spiritual services, meeting rooms, library, catering and laundry, will be considered.

The meeting was organised by North Berwick’s community council and held last Wednesday evening in the town’s Hope Rooms.

Sheila Sinclair, chairwoman of the community council, said: “I was quite encouraged by the pertinent questions that people were asking.

“I thought people asked sensible questions and any heat about the Edington was taken out of the situation by David Small.

“[The Edington] was not what the meeting was meant to be about.” North Berwick Coastal ward councillor Jim Goodfellow was another of those at the meeting.

He said: “I welcome the progress we are making.

“When it is finished it will be an excellent facility for East Lothian.

“Obviously there are issues to be discussed.

“The oncology and x-ray facilities are in the process of a decision.

“I hope we will get the best available facilities at that time.”