Local MSP Jackie Baillie has called on the SNP to come clean on their plans for the Vale of Leven maternity unit after it emerged this week that the SNP Health Secretary Shona Robison told top officials from NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde that she supported the health board’s plans to launch a consultation on proposed cuts to services.
The Chief Executive of NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde, Robert Calderwood, revealed during the health board meeting on Tuesday that Shona Robison had agreed to going ahead with a consultation on a range of service cuts across the west of Scotland.
He said that the Scottish Government would make a judgement on the proposals at the end of the engagement process, but that is not the case for the Community Midwifery Units at the Vale and Inverclyde Royal as they are not designated as a ‘ major service change’.
This makes it much easier for the health board to close the birthing unit because unless the Scottish Government declares the closure of the birthing unit to be a ‘major service change’ then the health board, not the Cabinet Secretary, will have the final say.
Labour members on the NHS board tried to kill the cuts plan stone dead yesterday by voting against proposals to launch the consultation process. Labour Leader of Renfrewshire Council, Mark MacMillan, put forward an amendment backed by West Dunbartonshire’s Gail Casey to cancel all the proposed cuts to local services but they were outvoted.
Jackie Baillie said that the SNP Health Secretary needs to step in now and halt the cuts or it will let the health board get away with breaking the promises made in the Vision for the Vale.
“The SNP made lots of promises before the election about protecting our local services. A few months later and the SNP Health Secretary is letting the health board launch a consultation on plans to cut vital NHS services across the west of Scotland.
“The SNP Health Secretary could have been clear from the beginning that she would veto any plans to cut services at the Vale of Leven Hospital. Instead she is privately agreeing with top health board officials that they can launch a consultation on cuts.
“But she must take responsibility for taking the final decision. Side stepping this would be an absolute betrayal of local people and an affront to democracy. The Cabinet Secretary is in charge of the NHS, not the health board where a majority of their members are unelected and unaccountable to our local community.
“If the SNP Government will not step in to save our local services then it will let the health board get away with ripping up the promises made in the Vision for the Vale. And if they do plan to safeguard our local maternity unit then this whole consultation exercise is a waste of time and public money. It’s time for the SNP to come clean with local people one way or another