GP out of hours service crisis at Vale of Leven Hospital

Jackie Baillie, Health Secretary Shona Robison and Vale of Leven Hospital.

March 15, 2018 – New figures obtained by local MSP Jackie Baillie have revealed the extent of the staff shortages at the Vale of Leven Hospital’s GP out-of-hours service.

A Freedom of Information request submitted by the Scottish Labour MSP found that there were 116 gaps on the GP rota between February 2017 and January 2018 – the equivalent of one unfilled shift every three days.

The Vale service had to close its doors to patients on fifteen occasions over the past year due to staff shortages, including three temporary closures in the first eight days of last month. The service was also reported closed on Saturday 10 March by a member of the public but this was after the health board started compiling the figures so it was not included in the response.

When the service is closed the nearest GP out-of-hours unit is at the Royal Alexandra Hospital in Paisley.

GP out-of-hours is a well-attended service at the Vale of Leven Hospital which serves patients from Dumbarton, Vale of Leven, Helensburgh and Lomond on Monday-Friday evenings and all day on Saturdays and Sundays when local GP surgeries are closed.

The future of the service and its opening hours have been under threat for over a year as a result of staff shortages. NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde launched a review of out-of-hours in February 2017 but the conclusions have still not been made public.

Jackie Baillie said: “These shocking figures confirm that staff shortages continue to affect our local out-of-hours service, despite the health board and the SNP Government being aware of the problems for over a year. Hundreds of local people attended public meetings in Alexandria and Helensburgh and campaigners have rallied outside the Scottish Parliament to make their voice heard. When will the Health Secretary (Shona Robison) start listening and finally get a grip of the staff shortages at the Vale?  The threat of cuts to opening hours has been hanging over the head of the GP out-of-hours service for too long. It is completely unacceptable that local patients have been left in the dark for months and it’s time for the health board to make a positive decision to properly resource the service at the Vale. This is a basic local health service and the Health Secretary should immediately guarantee that there will be no centralisation of the service in Paisley and no cuts to opening hours at the Vale.”

Freedom of Information response received from NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde:


Month No. of Unfilled Sessions
Feb-17 14
Mar-17 5
Apr-17 14
May-17 9
Jun-17 5
Jul-17 5
Aug-17 1
Sep-17 12
Oct-17 20
Nov-17 17
Dec-17 8
Jan-18 6

                    Table 1: The nos. of unfilled GP sessions at the VOL since Feb 2017.

Month Date Closure Periods
Feb-17 12/02/2017 15:45-22:59
19/02/2017 08:30-15:45
Mar-17 11/03/2017 15:45-22:59
Apr-17 14/04/2017 20:00-23:59
18/04/2017 18:00-23:59
23/04/2017 08:30-15:45
May-17 13/05/2017 15:45-22:59
Jun-17 11/06/2017 08:30-16:00
Sep-17 09/09/2017 15:45-23:00
17/09/2017 08:30-15:45
Oct-17 01/10/2017 08:30-15:45
Jan-18 18/01/2018 1800-23:00
Feb-18 01/02/2018 1800-23:00
04/02/2018 08:30-15:45
08/02/2018 18:00-23:00

Table 2: Details of temporary closures of the GP OOH service at the VOL


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