Cabinet Secretary Jeanne Freeman, third left, meets Jackie Baillie MSP, the Rev Ian Miller, Jim Moohan, Mick Mulkern, Mick Conroy, Barbara Barnes and other members of the hospital monitoring groups.
By Democrat reporter
Dumbarton and Lomond MSP, Jackie Baillie, joined Jeane Freeman MSP, the Cabinet Secretary for Health and Sport, on a visit to the Vale of Leven Hospital where they discussed the extensive closures of the Out of Hours service.
The MSPs were joined by a local GP, representatives from Hospitalwatch and the Lomond Patients Group as well as health board staff for a tour of the hospital and a meeting.
During a discussion on the Out of Hours service, Jackie and Dr Brian McLoughlin highlighted the need for out of hours to be delivered locally.
They told the Cabinet Secretary that patients from the Vale’s catchment area are often forced to travel to the Royal Alexandra Hospital in Paisley, or further, to access treatment because the Out of Hours service at the Vale is closed.
The rota for the Vale of Leven hospital’s Medical Assessment Unit is organised locally by the Integrated Care Group of GPs. Jackie called for the GP Out of Hours service to be organised in the same way, an idea which was suggested during the public meetings with the health board as a way to solve the problems at the Vale of Leven.
The Cabinet Secretary told the group that models like this are already being used in other parts of Scotland and work well and called on the Health Board to ensure that this is explored as an option for the Vale.
A working group will be meeting in August to do exactly that.
Jackie Baillie said: ““The out of hours service is the most basic of our emergency health services. It is one that should be available locally for patients who need treatment out-with normal working hours. It is unacceptable that patients in our community are continually forced to travel to Paisley or beyond to access a service like this.
“Our Out of Hours service has suffered more closures than any other out of hours in the Greater Glasgow and Clyde – more than 80 last year and 50 for the first 5 months of this year alone.
“Patients who are ill are being forced to travel greater and greater distances for basic health care and for many, where that simply isn’t an option, they are waiting until daytime to seek help – this could end in disaster.
“I am glad that the Cabinet Secretary highlighted that a locally organised model can work and is working in other parts of the country.
“The health board told us that they are going to explore this type of model for the Vale. I want them to include local GPs in that discussion so that we get a sustainable solution. I hope that in the meantime they will ensure that the GP Out of Hours at the Vale remains open.”