Vale’s future is safe, campaigners assured
But bosses still evasive on cash
Vale hospital campaigners grilled health chiefs about the future of the cuts-hit Vale hospital - but say bosses dodged questions about finance.
Members of Hospitalwatch met with the chair of NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde John Brown and chief executive Jane Grant and said the discussion was largely positive, despite not getting all the answers they sought.
A list of services have been axed at the hospital since 2002 with a further two still facing an uncertain future.
Campaigner Jim Moohan said, after the meeting: “We raised a number of points including capital investment, infrastructure, geography, transportation difficulties, skills and services with the aim of, in our view, stabilising the hospital going forward.
“Mr Brown made it very clear that the hospital would not close and was part of a general discussion on proper processing and planning for the future under a national strategy.
“It was acknowledged by the chair that a great deal of mistrust existed in the communities of West Dunbartonshire and Argyll and that the issue had to be addressed.
“We were given an insight into the manner consultation would be done in the future to assist that trust factor.
“They didn’t answer questions on what the five to 10 year spending plan was or questions on the investment of infrastructure.
“It was positive in that the spirit of the meeting was good. Over the 90 minutes, we touched on a number of areas.
“However, we didn’t get the financial assurances we really wanted — we really need a financial backbone for the future.”
The group highlighted the huge number of cuts which have hit the hospital over the past 15 years and they spoke about the hospital’s overhanging threat of cuts, including plans to slash the GP out-of-hours service to weekends only.
Jim added: “It’s also worth noting the health board hasn’t challenged anything in our press statement after the meeting so as far as we are concerned, they are accepting where we are.”
A spokesman for NHSGGC told the Lennox Herald that the health chiefs reassured campaigners that the Vale is part of the board’s long terms plans.
He said NHSGGC is working to implement a National Clinical Strategy and Health and Social Care Delivery Plan, meaning more specialised services will be delivered in centres of clinical excellence in regions or at a national level.
At the meeting, Mr Brown gave a commitment that residents will be kept fully informed.
Speaking afterwards, he said: “Hopefully, this meeting will be seen as a positive step towards improving the public’s confidence in the health board and help put an end to the notion that the Vale of Leven Hospital is under threat of closure.”
Speaking about the upcoming “modernisation” of the NHS, he added: “It would be wrong to assume that change presents risks to the future of the hospital. The Vale’s future is guaranteed and the development of integrated health and social care locally is assured. That was the clear message we were able to give Hospitalwatch.”
Dumbarton MSP Jackie Baillie added: “I congratulate the Hospitalwatch team for securing this meeting and I would urge the health board to keep the campaign and the local community closely involved in future.
“The launch of a full-scale review of every hospital site in the region next year is hugely important for the Vale of Leven Hospital and I will work with Hospitalwatch and others to argue for the delivery of more services locally and an end to centralisation south of the river.”
Talks Hospitalwatch members Mick Conroy, Jim Moohan, health board chair John Brown, Monica Wild and Rev Ian Miller