The County You Live, Work And Play
NHS Massive Improvement In Out Of Hours
NHS bosses insisted they have seen a ‘massive improvement’ in the out-of-hours GP service in Lanarkshire after they controversially axed the facility at Wishaw General Hospital.
From July 1, people living in Wishaw, Newmains, Waterloo, Overtown, Shotts, Cleland or Motherwell have had to travel to health centres in Airdrie or Hamilton if they require to be seen by a GP.
However, the interim move has prompted widespread anger with more than 3000 people signing a petition demanding that the vital service remains at Wishaw General Hospital.
The move prompted a series of questions from both members of the public and Lanarkshire councillors at the review, held in Bothwell.
Many of those attended the meeting stated that they were unhappy at the distances they would have to travel in order to get to the two health centres with a number from more rural areas in Lanarkshire saying that the service at Wishaw General was already out of reach for them.
However, NHS Lanarkshire Chief Executive Calum Campbell defended the move.
Speaking at the review, Mr Campbell said: “We don’t have enough GP’s who wanted to work in the out-of-hours service.
“Since the new service began we have seen a massive improvement and I am confident we have an excellent service but we can improve it even further.”
Mr Campbell also dismissed calls for out-of-hours services to be set up in smaller hospitals such as Cleland, Kirklands in Coatbridge and Lockhart Hospital in Lanark.
He added: “We have to be very careful; it’s very important that we get people to the right place whether it be to an A&E department or to an out-of-hours service.”
The health board also announced that its most recent weekly figures, from August 10 to 16, showed that 90 per cent of one hour and 96 per cent of two hour home visits were completed with 85 per cent of one hour and 90 per cent of two appointments in the centres themselves concluded in a satisfactory way.
NHS Lanarkshire have reiterated that no final decision on the out-of-hours service will be taken until the Scottish Government’s National Review into the service later this year.
Motherwell and Wishaw MSP John Pentland said: “They (NHS Lanarkshire) may say it is working well, but there is no doubt that it is an inferior service for my constituents.
“It goes against the recommendations of several Royal Colleges of medicine and other professional bodies. It goes against research that shows the best solution is co-location of out of hours services alongside A&E departments.
“We now have people being told to travel to Hamilton to see a GP, who are then put in an ambulance to urgently get them to Wishaw General.
“How can that be an improvement on GPs working alongside A&E?
“Thousands of people in Motherwell and Wishaw – my constituents - have said clearly that they want a local service. I fully support that.
“When will the health board wake up and listen to what they are saying?
“Of course, we need more GPs to staff out of hours. How we achieve that is part of the National Review. NHS Lanarkshire should not be accepting that the GP shortage is a problem that cannot be solved.
“If this decision is not ultimately reversed, then it will do unjust damage, condemning the people of Motherwell and Wishaw to suffer the consequences of that short-sighted and defeatist conclusion.”