HEALTH: MSP’S CONCERN OVER THREAT TO DEMENTIA WARDS FROM BASKET CASE COMMITTEE

Pictured above are the threatened Glenarn Ward at Dumbarton Joint Hospital, Jackie Baillie MSP and the Fruin Ward at the Vale of Leven Hospital.

By Bill Heaney

Jackie Baillie has called for clarity over the future of dementia wards in Dumbarton and Alexandria after it was revealed local services are under review.

The Dumbarton constituency MSP has been inundated with correspondence after raising concerns about the potential closure of both the Glenarn Ward at Dumbarton Joint Hospital and the Fruin Ward at the Vale of Leven Hospital.

Current and previous staff, as well as relatives of people who have been cared for at the units, were dismayed that these services could be withdrawn with no adequate response from West Dunbartonshire Health and Social Care Partnership to the reports.

The chief officer Beth Culshaw,  pictured right,  eventually responded two months after Ms Baillie’s original letter asking for reassurance over the services.

Her response in late December advised that patients have already been sent to other sites across the NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde area and that community support for older people with mental health problems would be subject to review.

She advised in her response that there are no “current” plans to close either Glenarn Ward or Fruin Ward but provided no guarantee over their future.

Jackie Baillie said: “Any threat to local mental health services must be opposed. Dementia treatment is most effective when it is accessed close to the patient’s home and to hear that patients have already been referred elsewhere is extremely worrying.

“There has been no consultation with staff or patients on changes within the service. Any review must be robust and any changes need to be in the best interests of those who receive treatment.

“This cannot be a money saving exercise and a move towards further centralisation. We already know that doesn’t work.

“There needs to be a cast-iron guarantee that these wards remain open in the long-term to meet the demand, protect jobs and provide the treatment which is vital to those who need it.”

Dumbarton Health Centre in Artizan.

The basket case health and social care committee was formed under the SNP government and has already shown its incompetence in Dumbarton by closing the practise of local GP David Neilson, who went back to work full-time at the health centre just this week.

His dismissal came at a time when GPs were, and still are, in desperately short supply and close to the start of the covid pandemic, which is not yet over.

A petition from his patients against their decision was ignored – it was not even discussed – by the HSC committee, the Health Board and the Council,  and Dr Neilson, pictured left,  was finally completely cleared of any [administrative or other] error by a judge at an employment tribunal.

The undemocratic HSCC committee, not all of whose members are elected, works in co-operation with West Dunbartonshire Council and, like the council itself, refuses to speak to The Democrat basically because we published stories which reflected badly on them and they did not wish to see printed.

Their questionable role, from a public perspective, appears to have been to make cuts in health services here to meet SNP budget constraints and this recent suggestion that dementia wards should close appears to reflect this.

The Labour administration on West Dunbartonshire Council are said to be discussing whether or not to lift the ban on The Democrat speaking to the council’s press officers.

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