Jackie Baillie seeking answers on why Vale of Leven Hospital Out of Hours Service is almost non existent. Pictures by Bill Heaney
By Paul Cassidy
Dumbarton Constituency MSP, Jackie Baillie, has slammed NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde as information from a Freedom of Information request has revealed that the GP Out of Hours service at the Vale of Leven hospital has been closed 179 times from January 2019 to December 2019.
This is a dramatic rise from last years’ figures when between January 2018 to December 2018 there were 82 closures, representing a 118% increase. There were six closures during the festive period in 2018 which went up to 22 in 2019, representing a 266% increase.
Last year in August 2019, Health Secretary Jeane Freeman visited the Value of Leven Hospital and met with Jackie Baillie MSP, Hospital Watch and local community groups, the meeting resulted in promises to fix the out of hours service, including encouraging NHS Great Glasgow and Clyde to allow out of hours cover to be arranged locally, rather than centrally by the health board.
The Hospitalwatch group who met with Jeane Freeman to discuss service provision at Vale of Leven Hospital.
In December 2019, Jackie Baillie raised issues about the out of hours closures in the Scottish Parliament, and Health Secretary Jeane Freeman promised to take the issue up with NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde, whose chairperson is John Brown and Chief Executive Officer is Jane Grant..
These closures are forcing patients in the area to travel to the Royal Alexandria Hospital in Paisley or the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital to access the most basic of emergency services. The figures show that May and December had the highest number of closures with 20 and 22 respectively.
The FOI also revealed that the reason for all local closures has been due to a lack of GP availability.
This latest news has continued to highlight ongoing concerns about NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde’s ability to manage the local Out of Hours Service.
The MSP for Dumbarton, the Vale of Leven and Helensburgh, Jackie Baillie MSP said: “The continued closure of the GP Out of Hours service at the Vale of Leven hospital is simply unacceptable.
“Patients in our area need to be able to rely on essential services like this, delivered locally in their area. It’s shocking that in the last year alone there has been an 118% increase in closures of the service, including an increase in the number of closures during the festive season.
Minister Jeane Freeman, Chief Exec Jane Grant and Chairperson John Brown.
“It’s clear that despite promises by the Health Secretary and the Health Board to improve the out of hours service, it has continued to decline, with patients and staff suffering as a result.
“Local people value local health services, and time and time again residents have called on the health board to ensure that this service was staffed as a priority. I have raised this with SNP Ministers time and time again, to be met with promises to resolve the problem, but it’s a promise they’ve broken over and over again.
Last year the Health Secretary came to the Vale of Leven Hospital and met with me and local community groups, we were promised then that action would be taken, but nothing appears to have changed.
Ms Baillie added: “With the Scottish Government in control of the health board, following the Health Secretary’s decision last month to move the whole board into special measures, urgent action must be taken to address local out of hours services.
“Failure to do so will only increase distress to patients and put NHS staff who do fantastic work, despite the lack of resources to support them, under even more pressure.
“It’s time that NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde and the Scottish Government got their act together and ensured local people can rely on the out of hours service.”