Over the years our local community has petitioned the Scottish Parliament to save the Vale, we have held hands round the hospital and thousands have marched through the streets.
Every time services at the Vale have come under threat I have stood alongside staff and local patients, irrespective of which political party is in charge. That’s why I spoke in a Holyrood debate last week to demand a cast-iron guarantee for the future of our local health services.
When I challenged the SNP Health Secretary to give a clear commitment to maintain all current services at the Vale she avoided the question and spoke about the past. I welcomed the Vision for the Vale in 2009 because it sought to provide stability and an assurance about services. However despite that Vision, cuts at the Vale have continued. Staff numbers have been cut; bed numbers have been cut; clinics have been cancelled; community maternity unit hours have been reduced; the Christie ward has closed and is now being demolished; junior doctor vacancies are unfilled; and this month, ward 6 is closing, with the Health Secretary’s agreement.
On top of that came the document that was leaked in January this year about NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde’s proposals to cut services in order to save £60 million. The health board outlined a whole list of cuts to the Vale including staff numbers, bed numbers, removing emergency care services and maternity services too.
At the time the SNP told us that NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde did not know the full details of its budget for the new financial year, so we were not to worry. But now that the information is in the public domain and all health boards know their funding allocation, the cuts have gone up from £60 million to £69 million, so all the cuts are back on the table.
Local people, and especially the staff who do a tremendous job at the Vale, deserve to know where every political party stands on the health board’s plans. I am completely clear that I want to maintain all current services -; indeed, I want to increase services at the Vale. It would be completely dishonest of the SNP to let voters head to the polls in a few weeks time without telling them the truth about the health board’s c