Fears­for fu­tureof hos­pi­tal ser­vice

Lennox Herald - - FRONT PAGE - Lor­raine Weir

Vale of Leven Hos­pi­tal’s outof-hours unit was shut two Sun­days in a row, we can re­veal, prompt­ing fears it may be the next ser­vice to face the axe.

John Hendry from Bon­hill turned up at the GP-led unit with his ill son Jack, 12, to find it was closed at 8.15pm on Sun­day, de­spite the fact it is meant to re­main open un­til 11pm.

NHS Greater Glas­gow and Clyde health board has con­firmed to the Len­nox Her­ald that the unit was shut from 3pm.

This fol­lowed a seven-hour clo­sure the pre­vi­ous week and has led to fears about the fu­ture of the fa­cil­ity.

Dum­bar­ton MSP Jackie Bail­lie said she un­der­stands that health board of­fi­cials are look­ing at ways to scale back the ser­vice as they strug­gle to staff it.

The Labour MSP be­lieves that one of the op­tions is to “per­ma­nently with­draw the ser­vice five days a week and re­fer lo­cal pa­tients to the RAH in Pais­ley on Mon­day-Fri­day evenings”.

NHS Greater Glas­gow and Clyde re­fused to be drawn on this. A spokes­woman con­firmed the ser­vice is un­der re­view and said the

op­tion of bring­ing in GPs from other ar­eas to cover the de­mands is be­ing ex­plored.

Cam­paigner Jim Moohan of pres­sure group Hospi­tal­watch, who has spent the last 13 years bat­tling for as­sur­ances over the fu­ture of the Vale, said: “I’m con­vinced that will be the next step.

“I hon­estly be­lieve the health board and the health sec­re­tary should is­sue an apol­ogy to the peo­ple ofWest Dun­bar­ton­shire and Ar­gyll for the fact that this has hap­pened.

“They have to give a state­ment of in­tent that this won’t hap­pen again for the peo­ple of the com­mu­nity who fi­nan­cially strug­gle to get to Pais­ley.

“It’s ab­so­lutely dis­grace­ful.They’re penny pinch­ing to the ex­tent that they’re put­ting lives in dan­ger. It has to stop. Pais­ley’s too far away for the needs of the com­mu­nity.”

NHS Greater Glas­gow and Clyde this week con­firmed that the out-of-hours ser­vice at theVale is un­der re­view fol­low­ing a na­tional au­dit of sim­i­lar fa­cil­i­ties and that the re­cent clo­sures have been down to staff short­ages which con­tinue to be a prob­lem across the en­tire health board area.

A spokes­woman said: “The out-of-hours ser­vice is fac­ing sig­nif­i­cant chal­lenges in staffing the ex­ist­ing eight cen­tres for Greater Glas­gow and Clyde pa­tients.

“There have been oc­ca­sions when no GP has been avail­able to cover a spe­cific cen­tre.

“In re­sponse to this on­go­ing pres­sure, which is not unique to Glas­gow and Clyde, the GP out-of-hours team have de­vel­oped ini­tial thoughts on op­tions to ad­dress these pres­sures.

“A full range of op­tions will be de­vel­oped and con­sid­ered in a full re­view of the ser­vice to ex­plore how the ser­vice might be made more sus­tain­able.

“How­ever, the op­tion that the board’s se­nior man­age­ment team is cur­rently work­ing on is to sus­tain theVale GP out-of-hours ser­vice by ar­rang­ing cross-cover with the in­te­grated care GPs who cur­rently pro­vide emer­gency care in the hos­pi­tal.

“This op­tion would ad­dress the is­sue of fail­ing to get enough lo­cal GPs to vol­un­teer to work out of hours to sus­tain the ser­vice for pa­tients in this catch­ment area.”

Bon­hill dad John Hendry said he was stunned to at­tend the ser­vice on Fri­day and find out that it was shut.

He said:“We have used the ser­vice be­fore and we have never had any prob­lems.

“Over the week­end Jack de­vel­oped a re­ally sore throat and a re­ally bad cough. He has re­cently been ill with a chest in­fec­tion and I wanted to make sure it wasn’t go­ing to de­velop into that again.

“I was think­ing we were go­ing to have to go to Pais­ley and Jack cer­tainly wasn’t look­ing for­ward to the trip there and back.

“I stay in Bon­hill.The Vale is lit­er­ally five min­utes away. Com­pared to a half-hour jour­ney to Pais­ley, there’s a big dif­fer­ence.”

A GP work­ing on an­other ser­vice was able to check Jack over, which saved them hav­ing to travel to the Royal Alexandra Hos­pi­tal.

MSP Jackie Bail­lie, who sup­port’s the Len­nox Her­ald’s Save Our Ser­vices cam­paign to pro­tect theVale of Leven Hos­pi­tal, de­scribed the sit­u­a­tion as“very con­cern­ing”.

She said:“It is very dif­fi­cult to get to Pais­ley us­ing pub­lic trans­port, par­tic­u­larly on Sun­days, and those with­out cars might think twice about us­ing the ser­vice or de­cide to wait un­til the lo­cal surgery opened on Mon­day.

“Lo­cal fam­i­lies will have to wait longer to see a doc­tor and ill­nesses could get worse. Al­ter­na­tively peo­ple may end up at A&E, mak­ing waits for treat­ment even longer.

“The health board and the health sec­re­tary talk about look­ing at ways to make the ser­vice sus­tain­able and main­tain­ing ac­cess for lo­cal peo­ple but there is no guar­an­tee about open­ing hours.”

The Labour politi­cian raised the is­sue dur­ing First Min­is­ter’s Ques­tions at Holy­rood, urg­ing Ni­cola Stur­geon to en­sure the out-ofhours ser­vice is pro­tected.

The First Min­is­ter said: “We will con­tinue to sup­port ser­vices at the Vale of Leven and to sup­port theVi­sion for theVale so that the hos­pi­tal and the ex­cel­lent and ded­i­cated staff who work there can con­tinue to pro­vide ex­cel­lent ser­vices.”

Health sec­re­tary Shona Ro­bi­son said work is on­go­ing to es­tab­lish the“best model”for the pro­vi­sion of out-of-hours ser­vices.

She said:“No for­mal pro­pos­als have come for­ward and if they do we would be ex­pect­ing the health board to main­tain ac­cess for lo­cal peo­ple.”

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