Vital service is cut from Lorn and Islands Hospital
PEOPLE with bladder problems will now have to travel further for specialist care after clinics in Oban were moved to Paisley, Alexandria or Glasgow hospitals.
Urology is no longer offered at Lorn and Islands Hospital after city consultants said they were moving the clinic and closing the unit in town.
For some patients, of which there are believed to be at least 300 in the area – including at least 40 patients on Mull alone – it will mean a whole day of travelling for a 15-minute appointment.
A meeting of Oban Community Council on Monday evening was told that members were unaware of the service closure.
Even the chairman of the local health and social care partnership, Councillor Keiron Green, appeared to be completely in the dark about the move.
Councillor Mary-Jean Devon, who is the newly appointed Argyll and Bute representative to NHS Highland, said she had been inundated with complaints about the situation, adding: ‘It is no laughing matter – this is an incredibly serious issue.
‘Nobody knew that this essential service was moved to Glasgow and people are genuinely concerned that they will not get the support they need.’
Urology is the branch of medicine that focuses on surgical and medical diseases of the urinary tract and male reproductive organs and genitourinary surgery.
Ms Devon continued: ‘It is disgraceful that as a councillor I have to find out what is happening in Oban hospital from constituents.
‘One of them has tried four times to get to an appointment and there was no patient transport available and she hasn’t made it.
‘Travelling for an hour to Oban and back is quite different from travelling a whole day for a five-minute appointment.
‘There is no joined-up thinking, there is no patient transport. So how are people going to get to their appointments?
‘People should be encouraged to claim every single penny for travel costs to the hospital. That might make them think again.
‘I don’t think we are being told the truth about the hospital. The clinic has been in the hospital since it opened and surgery has always been done in Oban. That is no longer the case. The nurses, the equipment and everything is there – but it is not going to be used.
‘I have no idea why no-one in this room knows that the service is gone.’
Chairwoman of Oban Community Council Marri Malloy said: ‘You will not believe this ... I am on the communication group for Lorn and Islands Hospital – and I don’t even know about it.
‘To say I am furious is an understatement. We have been told lies.
‘There is no way this has just happened. This has been part of longer term planning by consultants in Glasgow. But no-one seems to have remembered to have told us.
‘I am going to say this very simply – we have been fed a load of lies by the hospital managers, and so have the staff in the hospital. We can see that bit by bit they are taking away all the services from the hospital.
‘If people at the hospital don’t tell us the truth, then we will need to have another public meeting and take matters into our own hands.
‘If councillors don’t know about it, who is fighting for us against the health boards cuts?’
Former councillor Neil MacIntyre told the meeting: ‘This is a problem being faced throughout the country. Consultants cannot be found for anywhere, so these doctors have got together and said, “I am not getting any more money for going to Oban, so let’s just get them here where I can see more patients in the same time”.
‘The only answer,’ he continued, ‘is to re-nationalise the health service.’
Community councillors have arranged a public meeting on Tuesday June 13 at 7pm in the Corran Halls.
After the community council meeting Councillor Elaine Robertson confirmed that she knew about the plans on May 23. Her understanding was that urology had been discussed at a public meeting held by the community council back in January.
A spokesman for Argyll and Bute Health and Social Care Partnership said: ‘ Due to the national shortages of consultant urologists, we have been unable to recruit a replacement lead urologist to support the local outreach and diagnostic service for more than two years. Therefore, we jointly planned and agreed with NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde that urology services for the area could only be provided in Glasgow by NHS GG&C’s team of urologists, as this would ensure we would have a safe and sustainable service which meets clinical governance standards.
‘Urology is a specialist clinical service and NHS GG&C is unable to support the continuation of the hybrid service model which had operated in Oban with a general surgeon and a urology nurse providing a basic diagnostic and follow-up service. All other aspects of the urology service have always been provided in Glasgow.
‘However, patient safety is our priority, and therefore for the foreseeable future basic urology diagnostics and follow-ups are now carried out in Glasgow. This has been in operation since January and we have confirmed this on a number of occasions.’