Richard Leonard, Jackie Baillie, Jeane Freeman, Jonathan McColl and Vale of Leven Hospital in Alexandria.
By Bill Heaney
During a visit to the Vale of Leven hospital yesterday, Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard expressed his full support for the reopening of the Vale of Leven Out of Hours Service.
He echoed the calls of local MSP, Jackie Baillie, who has consistently called for NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde to restore the Out of Hours service to its previous running capacity and to sack the chair and chief executive of NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde.
The Labour protest is in direct contrast to the SNP council leader Jonathan McColl and the SNP group’s decision to do nothing about the Health Board move other than to shrug their shoulders and accept it.
Which is in light of the fact that there has been wide public outrage and dismay that the service is being withdrawn due to a shortage of GPs.
Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard said: “The drastic cuts to the GP out-of-hours service at the Vale of Leven are unwanted and unacceptable. All avenues must be explored in order to get the service back to full capacity.
“This is not only a local issue but one of national importance. Cuts to out-of-hours services are happening across the country. NHS Greater Glasgow & Clyde and the Vale of Leven hospital in particular are at the eye of this storm.
“Jackie Baillie has championed the Vale and has done more than anyone to make sure that services at the Vale are a matter not just for her constituents, but for Scotland’s national Parliament.
“Last week I met with the Royal Society of General Practitioners. They made it clear that the reasons for the GP shortage in Scotland are complex, but we all agreed that more must be done to invest in training, to plan for rising need and to encourage doctors and medical students to specialise in general practice.
“Until this change comes, Scottish Labour will continue to fight, vigorously and relentlessly, against cuts to out-of-hours services such as at the Vale of Leven Hospital.”
Jackie Baillie, MSP for Dumbarton, Vale of Leven and Helensburgh, said: “I welcome the support of Richard Leonard in the ongoing battle to save the Vale of Leven Out of Hours service. He is right to point out that this is a national issue as well as a local one. The closure of this vital service is symbolic of the systematic failings across NHS Greater Glasgow & Clyde.
“GPs in my constituency suggested a locally organised solution to the out of hours problem over a year ago at a meeting with the Cabinet Secretary for Health, Jeane Freeman, at the Vale of Leven hospital. It is unacceptable that NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde was not capable of getting its act together and listening to these GPs until now – when we are in the middle of a crisis.
“The health board must take its head out of the sand and reinstate the Out of Hours service immediately. Until that happens local people are being referred elsewhere, as far as Stobhill and the Victoria for a basic Out of Hours service in direct contradiction to the recent health board leaflet. This is a scandal.
“I will be holding a series of public meetings regarding Out of Hours on Friday 27th March at 7pm in Helensburgh Parish Church and Monday 30th March at 7.30pm at the Concord Centre in Dumbarton. I would encourage anyone who cares about the future of our Out of Hours service and the Vale of Leven hospital to attend.”