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Scottish Health Secretary Asked To Step In
Health secretary Shona Robison has been urged to intervene to stop the axing of the out-of-hours GP service at Wishaw General Hospital.
Motherwell and Wishaw MSP John Pentland has called on Ms Robison to stop cuts to Lanarkshire’s out of hours GP service being pushed through under the guise of “interim” measures. Campaigners insisted the fight to save the vital service in Wishaw must begin now.
It came after NHS Lanarkhsire Board agreed to centralise the service to either Hamilton or Airdrie.
The MSP had previously called for the plans to be put on hold until a National Review reports and its recommendations can be taken into account and be part of a full consultation on all options for the service.
NHS bosses said that centralising the service is on an interim basis until a national review of the out-of-hour services have been completed.
Mr Pentland is concerned that the so-called interim measures are actually just an implementation of the planned cuts, which will be difficult to reverse, even if at odds with the recommendations of the National Review.
He said: “I called for the suspension of current plans to reduce out-of-hours services to just one or two centres for the whole of Lanarkshire, which would cut the service at Wishaw General and leave Motherwell or Wishaw without any provision.
“I also called for an assurance that there would be a rethink and fresh consultation on the local plan in the light of the current national review.
“The Royal College of Emergency Medicine has recommended what is currently Lanarkshire’s status quo – colocation with A&E departments.
“I have therefore written again to the Cabinet Secretary, calling for her to intervene to stop this subterfuge of cuts by stealth.”
Calum Campbell, chief executive of NHS Lanarkshire, said: “Mr Pentland’s call to put the interim changes on hold completely overlooks the central fact that there is an urgent need to act now in order to ensure patient safety due to the very real issues that exist with recruiting GPs to work out of hours.
“Our own review has identified that we need to take urgent interim steps to improve access for patients assessed as requiring to be seen within one hour, as at present only 37 per cent of these patients are being seen within target.
“Mr Pentland’s suspicions about NHS Lanarkshire’s intentions are unfounded. The reality is that I have given a guarantee that we will implement the requirements of the national review of out of hours in Lanarkshire. NHS Lanarkshire’s review has been independently verified by the Scottish Health Council, which found we have complied with the national guidance service change, and we will continue to conduct the review in an open and transparent manner.”