Give local patients and councillors final say on NHS shake-up, pleads MSP
Elected councillors and local patients should have the final say on changes to local health services, local MSP Jackie Baillie has said.
Speaking following the West Dunbartonshire Health and Social Care Partnership board meeting, the Scottish Labour MSP said that councillors should resist the move to appoint unelected officials to a key group which will oversee NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde’s plans to centralise services.
Board members will be asked to ‘delegate authority to the Chief Officer to identify an appropriate member(s) to represent the Partnership Board and HSCP on the Stakeholder Reference Group’.
The group is being set up by six partnership boards in the Greater Glasgow and Clyde area to be consulted on the health board’s Transformation Strategy which will come into force next year.
The strategy is likely to result in even more centralisation of acute services at two hospitals in Glasgow and the RAH in Paisley. A draft strategy, which was due to be discussed at the health board meeting in December last year and was pulled at the last minute, also included proposals for “fewer unscheduled care and admissions points”.
The Health Secretary later confirmed in a written response to Jackie Baillie that the Vale of Leven Hospital’s Medical Assessment Unit is one of five such departments that provide unscheduled care across the region. The other four are based at Inverclyde, the Royal Infirmary, Queen Elizabeth University Hospital and the RAH in Paisley.
Jackie said: “This will be the biggest shake-up in the delivery of NHS services for a generation and there are already worrying signs that it will mean more centralisation and cuts to local services.
“The health board has previously hinted at proposals to reduce the number of hospitals with unscheduled admissions, potentially affecting the Vale’s Medical Assessment Unit, and cut the number of beds for acute care. We need to get ready as a community to fight for our local health services once again because the first options for service changes will begin to emerge in February or March.
“Councillors are being asked to hand power to officers to decide who represents West Dunbartonshire on this key stakeholder group without any guarantees that elected members or even patients themselves will get a look in. It is vital that councillors, as our elected representatives, have a seat at the table to defend our local health services.”