New figures obtained by local MSP Jackie Baillie show that patients in Dumbarton, Vale of Leven, Helensburgh and Lomond have been left without GP out-of-hours cover for a total of 55 hours since the start of the year.
The rotas obtained by Jackie Baillie under Freedom of Information laws reveal that GP out-of-hours services at the Vale of Leven Hospital were closed on ten occasions over nine days in 2017 because the health board failed to roster enough GPs on the rotas. Most of the closures took place at weekends when the service is used by 170 local people on average, according to official figures.
Even when NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde has enough GPs available to keep the service open, the rota sheds light on the scale of understaffing at the Vale of Leven Hospital. Weekend shifts are normally staffed by two doctors but only one GP was available at the Vale on 14 shifts so far in 2017.
NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde has announced a review of out-of-hours services across the region which could result in the service being axed at the Vale of Leven Hospital between Mondays and Fridays.
Jackie Baillie has organised two public meetings alongside Hospitalwatch and local GPs to oppose the cuts:
Monday 26 June -; 7.30pm
Alexandria Community Centre
Monday 3 July -; 7.30pm
Helensburgh Parish Church
“These figures shed light on the scale of the staffing crisis in GP out-of-hours. The Vale of Leven Hospital is one of the busiest out-of-hours centres in NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde yet the health board has left Dumbarton, Vale of Leven, Helensburgh and Lomond without any local emergency cover on ten occasions since the start of the year.
“It is also a huge concern that, even when the service is open, it is often understaffed with just one on-duty GP at weekends. It is simply unthinkable that one doctor can be responsible for providing emergency primary care services to a population of over 70,000 people. No wonder local GPs have said that centralising the service in Paisley would put patients at risk.
“GP out-of-hours is not a specialist service. It is one of the most basic health services and it must be local and accessible. Even before the days of the Out of Hours service at the Vale there was always a doctor available in Dumbarton, Vale of Leven and Helensburgh for round the clock care in an emergency. It’s time for the SNP Government and the health board to listen to the voices of local doctors and protect our local services