Health Board public relations exercises liked the one above were simply a con to mislead the public about ward closures coming down the line. Health Secretary Jeane Freeman plants a tree at the Vale with Health Board chief executive Jane Grant and campaigners including Jackie Baillie MSP, Jim Moohan, Mick Conroy, Mick Mulkern, the Rev Ian Miller, Barbara Barnes and others.


By Bill Heaney

The local Health Board is planning to make savage cuts at Vale of Leven Hospital in Alexandria.

The Sword of Damolces is finally going to fall at the district general hospital despite assurances about its future from successive SNP health ministers.

Local members of the Board, who include Cllrs Jonathan McColl, leader of SNP-led West Dunbartonshire Council, and Marie McNair, vice chair of the Council’s health and social care committee, have sat on their hands while this is being planned.

Whether they knew about it, which is likely, or didn’t know, they won’t comment on it.

McColl, who has been called out for his lax attendance at Health Board meetings has never spoken out about the threatened cuts in services at the Vale.

In fact, it was revealed at one stage he was content with the way services were being “reconstructed” there.

In fact, they were being reconstructed right out the door and transferred to the Royal Alexandra Hospital in Paisley and the Queen Elizabeth II University Hospital in Glasgow.

However, he cannot duck out of this one which Jackie Baillie, the Labour MSP for Dumbarton Constituency, has been contacted about by a number local people over the weekend.

It involves the closure of the Fruin and Katrine Care of the Elderly wards at the Vale of Leven Hospital and move staff and patients to Glasgow.

Jackie Baillie said: “Staff and family members of patients on these wards learnt of the plans via social media over the weekend, rather than actually being spoken to by any representative from either the Greater Glasgow and Clyde health board or the West Dunbartonshire Health and Social Care Partnership.

“Both the Fruin and Katrine wards provide specialist care for those suffering from Dementia, as well as being a source of local support for the families and loved ones of these patients.”

Over the weekend, Ms Baillie wrote urgently to the Greater Glasgow & Clyde Health Board, the West Dunbartonshire Health & Social Care Partnership and to the Cabinet Secretary for Health, Jeane Freeman, to demand that these plans are scrapped.

And that staff and family members are given the respect and courtesy of being reassured about the future of the wards.

Jackie Baillie MSP said: “I was shocked and appalled to learn of these plans over the weekend. How anyone can think it is a good idea to cause such disruption and upheaval for Dementia patients, their families and our hardworking staff is completely beyond me.

“Not only is the proposal incredibly ill-thought out, but the way that they have been announced and circulated is utterly unacceptable.

“Hearing that these wards are set to close from social media posts, rather than from health bosses, has been hugely distressing for all the staff who provide vital Dementia care, as well as for the family members who have loved ones on these wards.

“It is of the utmost importance that these essential services are retained at the Vale of Leven Hospital.

“In this case it is the West Dunbartonshire Health & Social Care Partnership that is proposing the closure as an option that would remove local access for people to services and these plans must be stopped in their tracks.

“I will raise this in parliament and will continue to oppose such closures in the strongest terms. My priority is to stand the patients, staff and loved ones who rely on these services being delivered from the Vale of Leven hospital and to ensure that the decision is reversed.”

Three Wise Monkeys who consistently assured the local public about the future of the Vale of Leven Hospital – First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, Health Secretary Jeane Freeman and her predecessor Shona Robison.

The SNP have consistently denied there were plans to close the Vale, even in the long term, which is now, three Health Secretaries later, after First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.

The present Health Secretary, Jeane Freeman, has been to the Vale to talk to the local campaign group to Save the Vale and reassure them about its future.

Her predecessor, Shona Robinson, did the same thing which makes clear that the SNP from top to bottom have lied about the future of the Vale.

The writing has been on the wall for a long time, but the Health Board’s reluctance to use the Vale of Leven to accommodate Covid-19 patients while beds there lay empty was yet another sign of their clear intention to close the hospital.

The word on the wards is that Vale staff, patients present and future will be send “to Glasgow” begs the question where in Glasgow. Will that be Glasgow or Greater Glasgow?

This comes at the height of the pandemic and during lockdown when people are already worried about their health and their jobs.

It is a clear indication that the Health Board is run by highly-paid amateurs in so far as their leadership and communications and public relations are concerned.

The board advertised in the last fortnight for new members for the Health Board, posts for part-timers with no health service experience who will pick up more than £10,000 a year in remuneration and expenses while nurses on the Covid frontline are paid a pittance by comparison.

The SNP decided that the Health and Social Care Committee at West Dunbartonshire Council should be chaired by an accountant – “I think that says everything about the Health Board and this council committee. All they are really interested in is the money,” said one long-term campaigner to Save the Vale.

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