By Lucy Ashton
Dame Jackie Baillie has reacted with concern to news that NHS24 does not record whether callers from Dumbarton, the Vale of Leven, Helensburgh and Lomond are referred to services at the Vale of Leven Hospital.
The Dumbarton constituency MSP, who has long campaigned for services to be retained, promoted and added to at the local hospital is worried that the lack of scrutiny will lead to people being sent to other units across the NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde Health Board area.
Indeed, the figures obtained by Dame Jackie outline how patients who have called NHS24 from her constituency have ended up being sent as far away as Edinburgh, Larbert, Ayr, Wishaw and Dunoon for treatment.
During the year between April 2022 until the end of March 2023, some 32 people were sent to Inverclyde Royal Hospital which provides similar services to the Vale of Leven Hospital.
The information which has been given to Ms Baillie from NHS24 notes that callers from the G82, G83 and G84 postcode areas have faced waits of up to two hours 55 minutes before their call has been answered. The average wait time for the financial year 2022/23 was 22 minutes.
Dame Jackie, pictured right, said: “It is difficult to comprehend why patients from Dumbarton, the Vale of Leven, Helensburgh and Lomond who are calling NHS24 are being sent across the country for treatment.
“The Vale of Leven Hospital, with its dedicated and compassionate staff is on our doorstep and provides many of the same services as the hospitals where people are being sent.
“That there is no record held by NHS24 of when patients are being directed to the Vale is even more concerning.
“The Vale Hospital is a much-loved and respected local institution and people want to be treated here. They value the staff and they recognise how important it is, where possible, that medical care is provided locally.
“This is also vital for their loved ones who want to be able to be involved in this care and are integral to their well-being. Healthcare should be accessible and local.
“The SNP Government is presiding over chaos in our NHS and they need to use the services they have at their disposal. Otherwise, units will become over-run with patients who could have been attended to elsewhere.
“The Vale of Leven Hospital should absolutely be used to maximum capacity and that is why this information is so concerning.”