HEALTH MAT­TERS

Rutherglen Reformer - - News - Kenny Smith

Ruther­glen and Cam­bus­lang res­i­dents can con­tinue to use the New Vic­to­ria Hos­pi­tal for its NHS out of hours ser­vice un­til the com­ple­tion of a na­tional re­view.

The La­nark­shire NHS Board last week con­firmed at its meet­ing that rec­om­men­da­tions from the na­tional outof-hours re­view would be im­ple­mented in La­nark­shire and that the lo­cal out-ofhours re­view would not con­clude un­til af­ter the na­tional re­view re­ports.

Fu­ri­ous lo­cal res­i­dents had cam­paigned for them to be al­lowed to con­tinue to use the Vic­to­ria’s ser­vice, rather than travel to Air­drie and Hamil­ton, as was be­ing pro­posed in the lo­cal re­view.

The NHS said that due to pa­tient safety con­cerns re­gard­ing the cur­rent ser­vice, which are giv­ing cause for con­cern, the board agreed to aug­ment its cur­rent busi­ness con­ti­nu­ity ar­range­ments to im­prove the ser­vice.

Res­i­dents else­where in La­nark­shire will us an in­terim ser­vice model based at Air­drie Health Cen­tre and the Dou­glas Street Clinic in Hamil­ton.

Chief ex­ec­u­tive Calum Camp­bell said: “Pa­tient safety is the most im­por­tant con­sid­er­a­tion in mov­ing this mat­ter for­ward. We are com­mit­ted to im­ple­ment­ing the na­tional rec­om­men­da­tions on out- of- hours ser­vices, but need to in­tro­duce en­hanced in­terim mea­sures to pro­tect the safety of our pa­tients.

“Our own re­view has iden­ti­fied that we need to take ur­gent in­terim steps to im­prove ac­cess for pa­tients as­sessed as re­quir­ing to be seen within one hour, as at present only 37 per cent of th­ese pa­tients are be­ing seen within tar­get.

“The im­ple­men­ta­tion of the in­terim mea­sures will sig­nif­i­cantly im­prove the per­for­mance and en­sure a safe ser­vice is pro­vided for pa­tients. Con­tin­u­ous per­for­mance mon­i­tor­ing will take place.

“The La­nark­shire out- of- hours ser­vice has been op­er­at­ing un­der busi­ness con­ti­nu­ity ar­range­ments for a con­sid­er­able time.

“Even with th­ese ar­range­ments - which ef­fec­tively mean that we have had no choice but to re­duce the num­ber of cen­tres open depend­ing on the num­ber of doc­tors will­ing to work the out-of-hours shifts - pro­vid­ing a safe and ef­fec­tive ser­vice for pa­tients has proved chal­leng­ing.

“Our busi­ness cont i n u i t y ar­range­ments need to be en­hanced to im­prove pa­tient safety pending the out­come of the na­tional re­view.

“The in­terim ser­vice will be kept un­der con­stant re­view and we will un­der­take a full re­view, with public in­volve­ment, within six months.

“When the na­tional rec­om­men­da­tions are known we will seek to im­ple­ment th­ese as soon as pos­si­ble.”

The news was wel­comed by Ruther­glen’s Labour MSP James Kelly, who cam­paigned to en­sure lo­cals would con­tinue to use the ser­vice as it cur­rently stands.

He said: “This is a victory for the thou­sands of peo­ple within Ruther­glen and Cam­bus­lang who sup­ported the cam­paign to re­tain NHS out of hour ser­vices at the Vic­to­ria. Peo­ple re­sponded in huge num­bers be­cause they were clear that the health board’s in­ten­tion at the ini­tial con­sul­ta­tion meet­ing in the Town Hall was to move this ser­vice to Hamil­ton. The weight of public opin­ion has forced the health board to change their mind.

“How­ever, we must not be com­pla­cent and I will be watch­ing de­vel­op­ments on the na­tional out of hours con­sul­ta­tion to make sure that any changes are not in­tro­duced through the back door. The health board have been left in no doubt that any fu­ture at­tempt to move lo­cal ser­vices to Hamil­ton will be strongly re­sisted.”

New lo­cal SNP MP Mar­garet Ferrier and her col­league Glas­gow MSP Bob Doris MSP wel­comed the news.

Mar­garet has now writ­ten to the health board to seek as­sur­ances that the Ruther­glen and Cam­bus­lang ar­eas will not be in­cluded in this in­terim change.

The chief ex­ec­u­tive of NHS La­nark­shire has con­firmed in writ­ing to Mar­garet that their pre­vi­ous com­mit­ment re­gard­ing Ruther­glen and Cam­bus­lang still stands and as such, peo­ple in those ar­eas can con­tinue to ac­cess out-of-hours ser­vices at the New Vic­to­ria Hos­pi­tal.

She said: “I am de­lighted that the fears of lo­cal res­i­dents have been al­layed. Whilst Bob Doris had al­ready re­ceived as­sur­ances that lo­cal ser­vice would re­main un­af­fected, this con­fir­ma­tion from NHS La­nark­shire that out-of-hours ser­vice will not be af­fected by the in­terim change is very wel­come.

“Our ob­jec­tive mov­ing for­ward is to con­tinue to pro­tect lo­cal health pro­vi­sion and to make the case for ser­vice im­prove­ments to bet­ter serve the area.”

Dur­ing the re­cent gen­eral elec­tion cam­paign, Mar­garet had been ad­vo­cat­ing an en­hanced ser­vice which would see pro­vi­sion ex­tend to Ruther­glen Health Cen­tre.

She added: “Ruther­glen Health Cen­tre has just wit­nessed the com­ple­tion of a half-mil­lion pound up­grade. This fa­cil­ity is a credit to the health board, pro­vid­ing var­ied and fre­quent lo­cal ser­vices. I would wel­come se­ri­ous con­sid­er­a­tion of my pro­posal to fur­ther ex­tend the re­mit of the cen­tre to pro­vide an en­hanced out- of- hours GP ser­vice to the lo­cal com­mu­nity.”

Bob Doris added: “This an­nounce­ment con­firms the re­as­sur­ances that I re­ceived from NHS La­nark­shire af­ter my rep­re­sen­ta­tions to them, fol­low­ing which they ditched any sug­ges­tion of out of hours cover be­ing with­drawn from the Vic­to­ria In­fir­mary.

“The chal­lenge now is to cam­paign for ad­di­tional out of hours ser­vices at Ruther­glen Health Cen­tre, whilst en­sur­ing the Heath Board are in no doubt we wish to re­tain ac­cess to the Vic­to­ria in the long term.

“I will now throw my weight be­hind our new MP Mar­garet Ferrier’s cam­paign to look at en­hanced out of hours ser­vices at Ruther­glen Health Cen­tre.”

How­ever, Lib­eral Demo­crat coun­cil­lor for Ruther­glen South Robert Brown was more cau­tious on hear­ing the an­nounce­ment.

He said: “NHS La­nark­shire have al­ready said that they would not change the ar­range­ments for GP out of hours ser­vices for Ruther­glen and Cam­bus­lang un­til af­ter the Na­tional Re­view is con­cluded. I have al­ways re­garded that po­si­tion as lit­tle more than a PR state­ment fol­low­ing the strength of lo­cal protests about their orig­i­nal con­sul­ta­tion on mov­ing the ser­vice from the Vic­to­ria In­fir­mary to Hamil­ton or Air­drie.

“How­ever the fact that they have in ef­fect moved to a two cen­tre model for the rest of La­nark­shire in ad­vance of the re­sults of the Na­tional Re­view does not give any cause for con­fi­dence.

“Bring­ing in ex­tended phar­macy ser­vices and nurse-led ser­vices to sup­port the GP out of hours ar­range­ments is fine and will no doubt help.

“How­ever the bot­tom line is that this is a fur­ther cri­sis in the Scot­tish NHS for the SNP Gov­ern­ment in Ed­in­burgh. The out of hours is strug­gling be­cause they can­not get enough GPs. That is some­thing that SNP Min­is­ters should have sorted out long ago.

“It looks like the much- her­alded na­tional re­view will only come up with stick­ing plas­ter so­lu­tions.

“Lo­cal peo­ple – in­deed pa­tients across Scot­land – need a more long- term an­swer that they can rely on.

“Con­cen­trat­ing GP out of hours ser­vices in cen­tres which are re­mote from the public is not the an­swer.”

This is a victory for the thou­sands of peo­ple who sup­ported the cam­paign to re­tain NHS out of hours ser­vices at the Vic­to­ria

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