Breast Cancer

Baillie fury over failure to consult patients about transfer of services

Jackie Baillie MSP and Vale Hospital where patients were kept in the dark.

By Lucy Ashton

Jackie Baillie MSP has reacted angrily to the fact that NHS Greater Glasgow & Clyde failed to consult a single patient from the Vale of Leven hospital catchment area before proposing to close the Breast Cancer Service and centralising it at the Royal Alexandra hospital (RAH) in Paisley.

In July, a paper was submitted to the Acute Services Committee of the board of NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde which proposed the removal of Breast Cancer Services from the Vale of Leven Hospital and Inverclyde Royal Hospital centralising the service at the Royal Alexandra Hospital in Paisley.

The paper was the first proposal to come as part of the board’s Moving Forward Together programme which will see 32 service areas under the board’s control reviewed.

The fear for local communities, on both sides of the Clyde, is that this will lead to a reduction in local service, which is borne out by the Breast Cancer Service review.

In response to a freedom of information request – that is one where you have to drag the details out of the NHS – submitted by Jackie Baillie, NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde made a shocking admission.

This was that while a small group of patients from across the Clyde area were consulted on the proposals for the breast cancer service, not one patient from within the catchment area for the Vale of Leven Hospital was part of the consultation group.

And further information from the FOI request reveals that while 11 patients were involved in the first meeting of the Breast Surgery Service Review Focus Group which looked at patient experiences, only one patient returned for the second meeting of the focus group where final options for the change to the breast service were considered.

An email from the Scottish Health Council to NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde, at the beginning of August 2018, highlighted that the engagement which had taken place was not in line with good practice or national guidance.

In the same email, the board was asked to establish a full patient and public stakeholder group and to ensure this gave consideration to appropriate geographic representation.

The Scottish Health Council’s request for appropriate geographic consideration was repeated in several emails between December 2017 and August this year.

Jackie Baillie said: “It is clear that the board of NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde are a law unto themselves. They have blatantly ignored repeated requests from the Scottish Health Council to ensure that the consultation on the breast cancer service was geographically balanced and they have ignored guidance from the Scottish Government.

“The fact that the board was prepared to advance a proposal to remove a service from the Vale of Leven and centralise that service in Paisley, based on the opinion of just one patient, is ridiculous.

“And to make matters worse, the patient was not even from our area. This indicates how dismissive the health board are of the public and our views.

“Their admission that not one person from the catchment area for the Vale of Leven hospital was involved in the consultation at any stage shows a shocking disregard for public involvement in shaping the NHS.

“It is clear that the Scottish Health Council has recognised that the consultation was woeful. They have recognised the geographical difficulties that people from areas like the Vale and Inverclyde would have in accessing treatment at hospitals in other areas in the region, but the board have not given any consideration to this at all.

“It is clear that the board cannot be trusted to ensure that proper consultation with the public is undertaken. I am urging the Cabinet Secretary for Health and Sport [Jeane Freeman] to intervene. She must take control of the health board.

“If this is the level of consultation that the board regards as appropriate, I have deep concerns about how the rest of the Moving Forward Together programme will be implemented.”

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