REBIRTH OF THE VALE?
JUNE 2016: NHS chiefs reveal proposals to shut hospital’s birthing unit OCT 2017: Review hails model and plans to use it as example for other sites
The closure-threatened birthing unit at the Vale is to be held up as a model of good practice — 16 months after health board chiefs floated plans to shut it.
In June 2016, local people reacted with fury at moves to transfer all births to the Royal Alexandra Hospital in Paisley. After a year of uncertainty, NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde decided to pause on their controversial plans while a national review was considered.
As a result of this, the Vale will now play a leading role in how birthing services operate across Scotland as a pilot location for a new model of care.
Campaigners have said they are pleased but still concerned about the long-term future of the unit.
MSP Jackie Baillie (right) said: “The threat of closure has been hanging over the head of the Vale birthing unit for nearly two years, so I am pleased that we finally have some good news.”
But the MSP urged health bosses to work urgently to boost birth numbers which have “continued to fall due to the uncertainty caused by the closure plans”.
Around 20 patients a week are being sent to other hospitals across Greater Glasgow and Clyde after aVale lab had to close suddenly.
Due to a staff member being on bereavement leave, the service offering diagnostic testing at the respiratory lung function laboratory is currently shut.
Alan Johnston from Helensburgh was told he would have to go to Gartnavel for an appointment which was meant to take place at theVale this month.
He said:“As a patient with an appointment to attend the respiratory department lab at the Vale of Leven, I was surprised and disappointed to have the appointment cancelled and given one at Gartnavel instead.
“While I am relieved to be given an appointment elsewhere, it is alarming and concerning that I was unable to make any further appointment at theVale due to the respiratory lab being closed.
“Given that this clinic is well used by those in this area there must be guarantees and reassurances from the health board that this closure is only temporary.”
A spokeswoman for NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde responded to the concerns confirming that only one member of staff is trained to carry out the“highly specialised procedures” which include sleep studies tests.
She added: “Unfortunately this person is on bereavement leave but the procedures will restart as soon as this member of staff returns.
“We cannot confirm a date for when the service will resume.We are, however, keeping the issue under review and anticipate that it will be available at theVale within a matter of weeks.”