Let’s fight for the hos­pi­tal

The Oban Times - - News - MARTIN LAING mlaing@oban­times.co.uk

THERE is a real and present dan­ger that the hos­pi­tal in Oban could be down­graded.

NHS High­land has an­nounced a re­view of the ser­vices pro­vided in at Lorn and Is­lands Hos­pi­tal – to give it its proper name – in­clud­ing A&E pro­vi­sion, mov­ing away from a hos­pi­tal to a com­mu­nity fa­cil­ity, sur­gi­cal work, max­imis­ing part­ner­ship and net­works, ‘re­al­is­tic medicine’ and ‘fi­nan­cially sus­tain­abil­ity’. This is a har­bin­ger of swinge­ing cuts to come.

I was pre­vi­ously edi­tor of the Len­nox Her­ald cov­er­ing West Dun­bar­ton­shire and launched a cam­paign that is still run­ning to save ex­ist­ing ser­vices at Vale of Leven Hos­pi­tal in Alexan­dria and to re­store some that had been re­moved.

We were given cast-iron guar­an­tees that the fu­ture of the Vale hos­pi­tal was se­cure and that no fur­ther cuts were planned.

These pledges were not worth the pa­per they were writ­ten on.

De­spite Scot­land’s health sec­re­tary Shona Ro­bi­son plat­i­tudes, fur­ther dam­ag­ing cuts have been in­flicted on the Vale. Now the at­ten­tion has turned to Oban. Peo­ple in Argyll al­ready have to travel sig­nif­i­cant dis­tances to ac­cess treat­ment for a num­ber of ill­nesses and con­di­tions, of­ten in­cor­po­rat­ing ex­haust­ing and ex­pen­sive jour­neys to Glas­gow, Pais­ley and else­where.

It is ab­so­lutely vi­tal that we all de­mand hands off the Lorn and Is­lands Hos­pi­tal. Once the cuts be­gin, there is a gen­uine dan­ger that the fa­cil­ity will be dam­aged to the point where its whole vi­a­bil­ity is called into ques­tion. If that hap­pens, it could be cat­a­strophic.

But even the ad­mis­sion that A&E is to be scru­ti­nised is scan­dalous. If they shut down the emer­gency unit, then where would we go? In­ver­ness? Glas­gow? It can­not be Vale of Leven be­cause its A&E is al­ready closed.

Clos­ing A&E at Oban will cost lives. Let’s not let that hap­pen.

How we re­ported the coun­cil’s claims last week.

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