The future of the maternity unit at the Vale of Leven Hospital rests in the SNP Health Secretary’s hands, local MSP Jackie Baillie has said.
Jackie Baillie has received a letter from the Scottish Health Council confirming that “the decision on whether service change proposals are designated ‘major’ is made by the Scottish Government”.
That means that if the SNP Government declares the proposed closure of the Vale maternity’s birthing unit as a ‘major service change’ then the Health Secretary will get the final say on the plans. This is the only way the SNP can use its power to block the closure. But if the SNP Government decides that the proposals do not meet the threshold for major service change then the health board will be given free rein to transfer births from the Vale to Paisley or Govan.
“This letter confirms that the SNP Government has the right to veto any cuts proposed by health boards which it believes are ‘major’. It’s now up to the SNP Health Secretary to decide whether she agrees that ending a long line of generations born locally at the Vale would be a major blow for our local hospital.
“The SNP Government is ultimately responsible for the NHS in Scotland so they must not hide from their responsibility and pass the buck to someone else to make the cuts. It is important that service users and members of the public can hold decision-makers to account and the Scottish Government must have the final say on any changes.
“If the SNP Health Secretary decides not to step in then she is effectively giving her blessing to the health board’s no holds barred approach to cutting Vale services. The health board would carry on with its plans without listening to the concerns of local people. Families and NHS staff deserve to know whether the SNP will use its power to protect our local services