MSPs de­bate hos­pi­tal fu­ture

Pa­tients must be in­volved in de­ci­sion

Airdrie & Coatbridge Advertiser - - Controversy - Ju­dith Ton­ner

The de­bate over the fu­ture lo­ca­tion of Mon­k­lands Hos­pi­tal reached the Scot­tish Par­lia­ment as politi­cians from all par­ties had their say on a pro­posed move to Gart­cosh.

Lo­cal MSPs spoke out against the top­scor­ing op­tion, with SNP con­stituency mem­bers call­ing for the con­tro­ver­sial op­tions ap­praisal process to be re-run and Labour mem­bers back­ing a new build­ing on the cur­rent site.

Con­cerns about Gart­cosh and about the pub­lic con­sul­ta­tion ex­er­cise were raised by speak­ers from all five par­ties and min­is­ter Clare Haughey an­nounced that NHS La­nark­shire is be­ing asked about “fur­ther anal­y­sis and en­gage­ment with stake­hold­ers to ex­plore the con­cerns that have been raised”.

Scot­tish Labour leader Richard Leonard ini­ti­ated the Holy­rood de­bate with a mo­tion in­sist­ing that “a re­place­ment for the cur­rent Univer­sity Hos­pi­tal Mon­k­lands should be built in Mon­k­lands”.

It gained the sup­port of Lib­eral Democrats but was de­feated 94- 26 after the SNP, Greens and Con­ser­va­tives sup­ported an amend­ment spec­i­fy­ing “that any de­ci­sion on lo­ca­tion must take full ac­count of the views of pa­tients who will be served by the new hos­pi­tal”.

Mr Leonard told MSPs: “We are forced to bring this mo­tion be­cause we fear that a great in­jus­tice might be served on the peo­ple of La­nark­shire, which would be felt for gen­er­a­tions to come.”

He ques­tioned the op­tions ap­praisal, ask­ing what con­sul­ta­tion there had been of “porters, do­mes­tics, ca­ter­ing work­ers, pa­tients and car­ers”, and said: “The peo­ple of La­nark­shire have been nei­ther mean­ing­fully en­gaged nor gen­uinely con­sulted.

“There has been noth­ing less than a cyn­i­cal at­tempt to rail­road through the board’s pre­ferred op­tion of re­lo­cat­ing to Gart­cosh in the teeth of wide­spread pub­lic op­po­si­tion.”

Cen­tral Scot­land col­league Elaine Smith agreed: “Suf­fi­cient weight has not been given to the con­cerns of lo­cal peo­ple. The whole process has been flawed from the start, with NHS La­nark­shire heav­ily pro­mot­ing its pre­ferred op­tion of build­ing at Gart­cosh.

“Peo­ple of Mon­k­lands are deeply con­cerned about los­ing lo­cal hos­pi­tal pro­vi­sion in the heart of our com­mu­nity. It’s time for Par­lia­ment to step in and show sup­port.

“A newer, sub­stan­tially up­graded hos­pi­tal is needed but it should be on the cur­rent site.”

Mr Leonard, who col­lected 5000 pe­ti­tion sig­na­tures sup­port­ing a re­build at the cur­rent site, told the Ad­ver­tiser: “Peo­ple in Mon­k­lands are an­gry over plans to re­lo­cate to a to­tally dif­fer­ent site in Gart­cosh.

“The pe­ti­tion calls on the health min­is­ter to stop this dis­as­trous de­ci­sion from be­ing taken by the NHS La­nark­shire board. Re­lo­cat­ing to an area ill-served by pub­lic trans­port and fur­ther from prin­ci­pal pop­u­la­tion cen­tres would hurt work­ing peo­ple across Mon­k­lands.”

Alex Neil, the Air­drie & Shotts MSP, hit out at “a stupid de­ci­sion by NHS La­nark­shire to make Gart­cosh the pre­ferred site for the new hos­pi­tal”.

The for­mer health sec­re­tary said the op­tions ap­praisal in­cluded in­suf­fi­cient pa­tients and Mon­k­lands res­i­dents, adding: “The board then had the cheek to say it has stuck to the process laid down by the Government . There is no way that it has.

“NHS La­nark­shire is not lis­ten­ing. It would be a be­trayal of the peo­ple of the Mon­k­lands area if Gart­cosh were to be­come the site for the new hos­pi­tal.

“Scor­ing was rigged to get the an­swer that the health board wanted. In­for­ma­tion was in­ac­cu­rate, mis­lead­ing and un­bal­anced.

“It’s time for an in­de­pen­dent re­view of the process and de­ci­sion, which can­not be al­lowed to stand.”

Coat­bridge MSP Ful­ton MacGre­gor said: “Re­mov­ing a well-es­tab­lished hos­pi­tal from an area that has such health in­equal­i­ties could be re­garded as a hammer blow to those com­mu­ni­ties.

“The hos­pi­tal needs to serve Mon­k­lands and the board has a duty to in­stil con­fi­dence that that will be the case. There was weight­ing of Gart­cosh and should have been more in­for­ma­tion on other Mon­k­lands sites, for ex­am­ple at Gartsher­rie and the cur­rent site’s many pos­i­tives.

“It would be best to start again and con­sider all the op­tions, in­clud­ing look­ing again at Gart­cosh, while deal­ing with the con­cerns that have been raised.”

Watch­ing from the Holy­rood gallery was Neil Gray, the Air­drie MP, who joined forces with Mr Neil to col­lect 6000 sig­na­tures on a pe­ti­tion sup­port­ing al­ter­na­tive site Glen­mavis.

He said: “The re­lo­ca­tion of Mon­k­lands Hos­pi­tal is a huge lo­cal is­sue and al­most ev­ery MSP was united in the fact that Gart­cosh was not suit­able for a La­nark­shire­based fa­cil­ity.

“Suc­ces­sive MSPs voiced con­cerns about NHS La­nark­shire’s pro­posal. Alex Neil and Ful­ton McGre­gor spoke with author­ity.

“We will con­tinue to fight for the peo­ple of Air­drie and& Shotts and be­yond who are so ve­he­mently op­posed to this move.”

Cen­tral Scot­land Con­ser­va­tive mem­ber Ali­son Har­ris favoured a new site but said Gart­cosh “could ben­e­fit the peo­ple of Glas­gow but be a huge dis­ad­van­tage to peo­ple who live in Mon­k­lands area”.

She said Glen­mavis is “more cen­tral and would keep the hos­pi­tal within the heart of the com­mu­nity. That is a se­ri­ous al­ter­na­tive and one that I urge the health board to con­sider.”

Re­spond­ing for the Scot­tish Government, men­tal health min­is­ter Clare Haughey said: “I recog­nise the strength of feel­ing in the Air­drie com­mu­nity about the fu­ture ac­cess to and pro­vi­sion of hos­pi­tal ser­vices.

“No fi­nal de­ci­sion has been taken by the board on the pre­ferred op­tion for a new or re­fur­bished Mon­k­lands hos­pi­tal. NHS La­nark­shire has as­sured us that it will care­fully con­sider all con­sul­ta­tion re­sponses and rig­or­ously eval­u­ate all the op­tions.

“Min­is­ters have noted the con­cerns raised.”

It­would­bebest to start again and con­sider all the op­tions Ful­ton MacGre­gor

Cam­paign Air­drie’s SNP MSP Alex Neil and MP Neil Gray

De­bate Scot­tish Labour leader Richard Leonard

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