Health Services in Wester Hailes were slow to arrive. Despite a large population building up quickly, the general lack of infrastructure meant there was no health centre provided. People in the area therefore had to travel to Sighthill or Colinton to see a doctor, which was both time consuming and a financial cost for those on a low income. In 1975 Local Health Councils had been established to represent the interests of the public in the National Health Service. When a review of health services was then carried out in Edinburgh, the Edinburgh District Local Health Council was concerned about the problems facing people living in Wester Hailes. In 1979, the Lothian Health Board organised a series of meetings to consult locally and the message from local people was that they wanted a health centre within Wester Hailes. The Sentinel reported on this issue and on the health clinic that was set up as an interim measure. Residents were encouraged to contact the Health Council to express their views about the state of local health services. You can read this story here New Move on Health. Centre.
The Sentinel followed up this article by offering in the next edition to collect people’s comments about the need for a local health centre. The main objectors to the establishment of a new centre was reported to be local doctors who felt that the distance for travelling was not too far and that providing services from more than one centre would result in a deterioration of services. In December 1979, the Sentinel reported that local people had joined together to campaign for better health facilities, calling themselves C.H.A.G, the Community Health Action Group. They pointed out that whilst a one and a half mile journey did not in itself sound too far, if you had to use local public transport, if you had young children, or were elderly or more vulnerable, this journey could be complicated and stressful, especially in bad weather. You can read about their campaign in Health Group.
In the first quarter of 1980 approval to build a health centre was granted. However it was not until February 1983 that the Sentinel was able to report that a new health centre was now being built and that it now looked more hopeful that doctors would be taking surgeries there. The health centre would also have space for a range of services including dental surgeons, midwives and social workers. In September 1979, the Sentinel’s lead story was that the health centre would be opening its gates on the 5th September and that there would definitely be G.P. surgeries there.