MSP Jackie Baillie on the campaign trail with Labour leader Anas Sarwar for Marie Curie Nurses and more local hospital patients to be treated at the Vale. 

By Bill Heaney

Jackie Baillie has told of her concern that thousands of her constituents are being sent to hospitals across Greater Glasgow and Clyde when they could be treated at the Vale.

Shock new figures revealed to the Dumbarton constituency MSP through a Freedom of Information request outline that between the start of 2020 and June this year, 7491 appointments were made for residents of Dumbarton, the Vale of Leven, Helensburgh and Lomond at facilities outwith the area.

These were specifically for services which are available at the Vale of Leven Hospital and apply to both new and return appointments.

Hospitals where local patients are sent to – RAH in Paisley, Sick Children’s and Queen Elizabeth University Hospital.

Some 4532 of the appointments were made at the Royal Alexandra Hospital in Paisley and 536 of them were made for the crisis-hit Queen Elizabeth University Hospital.

Dumbarton constituency MSP Jackie Baillie said: “The Vale of Leven Hospital has a hard-working team of dedicated nurses, doctors and health professionals. People sing their praises regularly and rightly so.

“These figures, however, are clear. The Vale is not being used to its full potential. Instead, people are being sent to hospitals which already under pressure and are miles away from their homes. This means patients are making unnecessary journeys, often in pain, for treatment.

“Hospitals outwith the area are difficult and expensive enough to get to by car but if you don’t have the luxury of your own transport, they are tricky to reach and costly to use.

“I met with executives from Greater Glasgow and Clyde Health Board in recent months and I was reassured that people are being given the chance to be treated at the Vale of Leven Hospital instead of being handed appointments elsewhere.

“Whilst it is completely understandable if it means patients are seen quicker, they should have the option to be seen locally.

“Local people rely on and trust the Vale of Leven Hospital. They feel comfortable and safe here. I am concerned that when I asked how many people who had specifically requested to be seen at the Vale had their request granted, this information wasn’t captured.

“This is a huge missed opportunity by the health board.  The figures released show clearly that the Vale could be utilised much more than it is and a real push should be on having more people seen locally, not less.”

Meanwhile, and still on health matters, Scottish Liberal Democrat health spokesperson Alex Cole-Hamilton MSP, right,  has called on Health Secretary Humza Yousaf to “stop failing patients” and take action now, after figures published today show that cancer waiting times have dropped to the worst on record. 

Just 74.7% of referrals started treatment within 62 days, a decrease from 76.3% in the previous quarter and the worst performance against the target since 2012. The target was not met by any NHS health boards.

Mr Cole-Hamilton said:  “I am dismayed that once again we ae seeing the worst cancer times on record. We all know that early diagnosis and treatment are crucial to survival. The Cabinet Secretary needs to stop failing patients, their families and staff by taking action now.  Not to do so would be unacceptable.

“The Scottish Government needs to urgently get a grip of cancer care and treatment and replace its failed Recovery Strategy. It is frightening to think what has to happen before they realise this.”

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