The fight to protect local services at the Vale of Leven Hospital will continue in the New Year following the decision taken by NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde yesterday to go to full consultation on their proposals for closure of the birthing unit, local MSP Jackie Baillie has said.

Labour councillors made a last-ditch attempt to save the birthing unit but they were outvoted. Unelected members appointed by the Scottish Government used their majority to force through a public consultation on transferring all local births to Paisley or Glasgow in the New Year.

After months of pressure from Jackie Baillie and local campaigners the Scottish Health Council agreed that the proposals should be considered as a major service change. This means that the SNP Health Secretary will need to formally approve any cuts at the Vale of Leven maternity unit.

Jackie joined a 50-strong group of local parents and Hospitalwatch members who travelled to Govan on Tuesday to protest as health board members gathered for the crunch meeting.

Jackie said:

“Labour councillors used their votes to reject the cuts but the unelected members appointed by the SNP Health Secretary have overruled the wishes of local campaigners yet again. The process will drag on for another few months, with another costly public consultation, so our campaign to stop the cuts will continue in the New Year.

“The first part of our campaign has already been successful because the health board will not be allowed anywhere near the final decision on axing local services at the Vale. I welcome the fact that the Health Secretary will have to take the final decision on any cuts to local maternity services because the SNP is ultimately responsible for the NHS in Scotland and the promises made to our local community before the election must be kept.

“The Health Secretary has said she is committed to the Vision for the Vale and now it is time to deliver by providing early reassurance that she will not give the green light for the birthing unit closure. As a first step, Shona Robison must agree to meet with local campaigners and their elected representatives after turning down an earlier invitation

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