Why not the Vale, Hospitalwatch asks the health board

Vale of Leven Hospital exterior

Vale of Leven Hospital should be placed in intensive care.

By Democrat reporter

Vale of Leven Hospital should be placed in intensive care if the Health Board’s decision not to include it in a fast track programme for young doctors to participate in a recruitment programme is anything to go by.

The Vale is the only hospital in this part of the Health Board area to have been left out of the placements for 121 student medics, who arrived at the hospitals today to assist in the battle with coronavirus.

Other hospitals which are in the programme include the QE2 in Glasgow; the RAH in Paisley and Inverclyde Royal Hospital in Greenock.

The interns were just taking up their posts when former veteran GMB trade union official, Jim Moohan, told the Dumbarton Reporter he was at a loss to understand the Scottish Government decision to spend £43 million building a temporary hospital at the Scottish Exhibition Centre in Glasgow while wards are lying empty at the Vale of Leven facility.

The NHS Louisa Jordan hospital, constructed in a 10,000 sq m hall at the centre, has capacity for 1,036 beds and is clinically ready to treat coronavirus patients if required. It looks likely that these beds will not be required to deal with virus patients as numbers trail off.

Jim Moohan, who is chair of Vale of Leven Hospitalwatch, and has been prominent in the campaign to Save the Vale, says it “defies logic” that the Vale of Leven wards, which have capacity for more than 100 beds, are lying empty while the deadly coronavirus pandemic continues to claim lives across the country.

Bosses at the Louisa Jordan hospital have set an initial timescale of five months, with an option to extend if that is required, after which they will look at a decommissioning strategy.

However, Mr Moohan has called for the Vale wards to be prepared for the eventuality of a second spike in cases.

He told the Reporter: “I just can’t get my head around why they would spend that kind of money at the SEC when one or two millions could be spent at the Vale of Leven to put it in a state of readiness.

“We should use the facilities we already have. It would be money well spent locally for the sake of human life.”

Moohan Jim
Jim Moohan

Mr Moohan, left,  has been at the forefront of a long running campaign to urge the Health Board, which has been placed under special measures in relation to other matters at the showpiece £850 million QE2 Hospital,  to stop what he sees as a continual erosion of services at the Vale.

He said: “The health board should wake up and smell the coffee because at the end of the day, once it’s all over [the coronavirus crisis], there will be a blame game over how the pandemic was handled.

“Politicians from the various parties will be blaming each other.  I don’t know why they can’t work together as a united front – it’s a farce and it makes you sick of politics.”

She added that she would rather invest the money in the temporary hospital and not need it than not do so.

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “We are working with health boards and their partners on local plans to respond to the COVID-19 emergency that will lead to at least 3,000 beds being re-purposed across the country by suspending non-urgent treatment to create the necessary capacity.

“The NHS Louisa Jordan provides further flexibility by providing capacity for over one thousand beds if required.

“Given the highly dynamic nature of the emergency, plans will be kept under continuous review, both locally and nationally, to ensure that they are as robust as possible.”

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