A&E tops agenda as hospital campaigners meet Health Secretary

MSP Jackie Baillie led a cross-party local delegation of hospital campaigners to meet Health Secretary Shona Robison at the Scottish Parliament last week.Jackie Baillie VOLH

After the meeting Jackie welcomed Ms Robison’s commitment to the future of the Vale of Leven Hospital and her recognition of its importance as a local hospital for residents in Alexandria, Dumbarton, Helensburgh and Lomond.

The discussions covered a range of issues affecting local patients including transport, patient flow and ambulance provision – but the main focus of campaigners was the return of A&E services to north of the River Clyde.

While the Health Secretary would not make any commitment to A&E at the meeting, the local groups said they were pleased that she agreed to continue discussing the issue.

Jackie has invited the Cabinet Secretary to visit the Vale of Leven hospital to see the valuable work going on there.

It was also agreed that the flow of ambulances outside the area should be addressed.

One of the local campaigners revealed how ambulances which transport patients to the Royal Alexandra Hospital (RAH) in Paisley are often sucked into the Greater Glasgow network for hours on end, resulting in less coverage for local communities.

The Cabinet Secretary also agreed to consider patient flow to see where people are travelling to access services to inform the shape of service provision and future local priorities. Jackie said:

“I am delighted that the Health Secretary accepted my invitation to meet a delegation of people from Dumbarton, Vale of Leven and Helensburgh who have been fighting hard for better local health services.

“It is clear to everyone who has ever travelled to the RAH for A&E and other services that the current system doesn’t work.

“I want to see maximum use made of the Vale of Leven Hospital and an enhancement of the services on offer. While other hospitals are bursting at the seams, the Vale has the spare capacity to relieve some of the pressures at the RAH. I am pleased that Ms Robison has agreed to examine the patient flow across the Greater Glasgow and Clyde network and promote the use of the Vale wherever possible.

“But we will keep pressing for an A&E to be based north of the river. Now that the new South Glasgow University hospital is opening, it is time to reconsider where our A&E facilities should be sited. And to have two right next door to each other doesn’t make sense.

“Our community has stood together in the past to demand a north of the river solution and our cross-party group will continue to campaign to make this a reality

“Ms Robison has accepted our invitation to meet again at the Vale of Leven Hospital and I look forward to continuing our discussions.”

The ‘North of the River’ group invited representatives from all political parties in Dumbarton, Vale of Leven and Helensburgh to attend the meeting as well as non-party community activists.

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