NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde is planning the wholesale centralisation of acute hospital services due to pressures on NHS funding, according to a new health board paper.
The ‘Transforming the Delivery of Acute Services’ document reveals plans to:
- Reduce the number of hospitals with unscheduled care admission points
- Cut the number of beds for acute care
- Centralise inpatient hospital care at the RAH in Paisley, the Royal Infirmary and Queen Elizabeth hospital in Glasgow.
The paper says that the changes are necessary because of a “substantial gap” between NHS budgets and rising costs. The health board will need to make over £333 million of cuts, with a third being cut from services in the first year, and spend “substantially less” on acute hospital care.
The strategy was supposed to be considered at the health board’s December meeting where local MSP Jackie Baillie joined a delegation of hospital campaigners from Dumbarton, Alexandria and Helensburgh outside to protest against plans to close the Vale of Leven birthing unit. However the paper’s publication was delayed before it was presented to board members and has only now surfaced after a Freedom of Information request.
“While local protesters gathered outside the board meeting in December to oppose plans to close the Vale of Leven birthing unit, health board chiefs were already working on plans for the wholesale centralisation of acute services in Paisley and Glasgow. No wonder they pulled the paper from their December meeting.
“Despite all the SNP spin on NHS funding, this lays bare the true extent of the cuts to come in our health service. The £333 million of savings, with a third of the total savings pencilled in for the next year alone, will cut services to the bone and change the face of NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde as we know it. Make no mistake, this isn’t about shifting the balance of care, this is about swingeing cuts and patients will be the ones to suffer as they bear the brunt. It is clear that little consideration has been given to their needs as the SNP seem content to put pounds before patients.
“I am particularly concerned about the proposals to reduce the number of unscheduled care assessment sites, especially at a time when A&E departments are already struggling to cope with demand. This would mean axing valued local services like the Medical Assessment Unit at the Vale of Leven which provides emergency non-surgical care. Closing these local services would be counter-productive and lead to even more pressure on A&E departments and longer waiting times for patients.
“The health board is tearing up the Vision for the Vale, and the SNP Government are letting them.”