Dumbarton MSP Jackie Baillie has vowed to continue her fight for a north of the river-based A&E service after the Scottish Government signalled that it would not support moves to open an emergency department at the Golden Jubilee in Clydebank or at the Vale of Leven hospital.
In a meeting with Jackie Baillie MSP last week, Health Secretary Shona Robison said that she was not minded to support a new A&E service at the Golden Jubilee and refused to be drawn on the likelihood of A&E services being based at other sites north of the River Clyde.
Community activists and health campaigners in West Dunbartonshire, and Helensburgh and Lomond have been calling for a north of the river-based A&E for many years to end the practice of sending patients across the Erskine Bridge to the RAH in Paisley. NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde and the former Health Secretary Alex Neil had been supportive of the plans so the sudden change of heart from the Scottish Government will come as a shock to local campaigners.
The Health Secretary also confirmed that a study of patient movement would examine the flow of patients across the Greater Glasgow and Clyde area.
“This is extremely disappointing news for campaigners in West Dunbartonshire, Helensburgh and Lomond and it makes it less likely now that we will see the return of A&E services north of the River Clyde.
“The fact that there is cross-party support for opening up the Golden Jubilee to the people of West Dunbartonshire makes it even more difficult to understand the Health Secretary’s position. Her SNP colleague Gil Paterson wants A&E at the Golden Jubilee and her predecessor Alex Neil supported campaigners in our efforts. NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde even prepared a business case for a north-of-the-river A&E, which was submitted to the Scottish Government Health Directorate before Christmas, but unfortunately it seems that the Health Secretary has dismissed this.
“The Health Secretary said she would compile a study of patient movement but you only need to look at a map of Greater Glasgow and Clyde to understand that there is a huge gap in coverage in the north west of the region. Centralising services at three sites in the East and South of the city, with the new South Glasgow University Hospital only minutes away from the RAH, will create chaos for A&E departments, as we have already seen. Having an A&E north of the river makes sense; it is a real shame that the current Health Secretary doesn’t see it that way.
“Although this is a huge setback for local patients, our communities will continue to fight for a north of the river solution to A&E services. Local people deserve nothing less