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A lifeline has been thrown for Stornoway’s An Cotan childcare centre, as NHS Western Isles stepped up to declare an interest in taking over its management.

The childcare centre, based with UHI Outer Hebrides and highly valued by students, lecturers and other parents as a high-quality childcare option, has been under threat of closure after UHI said that problems securing staff and soaring running costs were making it unviable.

There was widespread dismay at the announcement on 1 March that the centre was likely to close (see our coverage here: after a consultation period.

But this afternoon (Wednesday 15 March) NHS Western Isles said they would declare an interest in becoming an alternative provider of the An Cotan Childcare Centre, either on their own or as part of a partnership.

Their public statement this afternoon said that the health board was disappointed to learn that UHI had launched a consultation on the proposed closure of An Cotan.

They said: “Childcare provision is a longstanding issue in our community, and is of vital importance to the sustainability of our health and social care system and our islands.

“As one of the main employers in the Western Isles, NHS Western Isles recognises the importance of childcare provision to enable parents and carers to work, as well as the clear benefits of high-quality childcare for the children themselves.”

NHS Western Isles is to explore options for keeping the centre open and chief executive Gordon Jamieson said: “We have been in contact with the UHI to ensure they are aware of our intention to explore becoming an alternative provider for the running of the nursery, either on our own, or as part of a wider partnership.

“There will be significant amount of very detailed work necessary to progress this, but we are committed to doing what we can to ensure that the facility remains open.”

Meanwhile UHI’s consultation on the future of An Cotan remains open until 5pm on Friday (17 March) with feedback invited at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..