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MP & MSP Hold Meeting To Discuss NHS Proposal
A meeting to give the public their say on proposals from NHS Lanarkshire to change the way out of hours GP services are delivered locally was organised by Tom Greatrex MP.
The Labour representative has been backed by James Kelly MSP and a team of local councillors, who have been hitting the Main Street and doorsteps to collect signatures demanding the NHS reconsider the planned changes.
The proposals, if implemented, would see the out of hours care provided by GPs in Rutherglen and Cambuslang move entirely to Hamilton.
The public meeting, which was open to all, was held on Monday, March 9, at the Eastfield Community Centre.
Tom said he was encouraging, "As many people as possible to go along to the public meeting and make sure their voice is heard loud and clear. There has been next to no engagement with the community on what would be a major change to the way local out of hours services are delivered in my constituency. I find it entirely unacceptable that people would be forced to travel to Hamilton to see a GP and want to hear direct from local folk on what their views are.”
James agreed: “We are opposed to the proposals and want to make sure as many people as possible, who would be affected by these changes, have the opportunity to voice their opinion. I hope from the public meeting we can send a clear message back to NHS Lanarkshire that these changes would make accessing vital medical help challenging for many residents in Rutherglen and Cambuslang.”
There has been cross-party opposition to the proposals.
Rutherglen South Liberal Democrat Councillor Robert Brown fears that the proposed move of the out of hours service is just the start and fears it could be the start of a transfer of accident and emergency, hospital consultant appointments and inpatient treatment for Rutherglen and Cambuslang patients to Hairmyres Hospital and Wishaw General.
Robert and his Lib Dem colleagues, who have been collecting signatures on their own petition, said: “Solemn promises were given when Rutherglen and Cambuslang transferred from NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde to NHS Lanarkshire that the change was an administrative one which would not affect patient flows.
“I have no doubt that NHS Lanarkshire, backed by the SNP government in Edinburgh, have other plans, and the changes proposed by them for GP out of hours services are just the start of more major changes.
“I have already described the out of hours changes as shambolic, confusing and badly thought out. They are also greatly to the disadvantage of local people in this area. But it would be far worse if they changed the whole thrust of hospital services so that patient flow went to Hairmyres or to the main Lanarkshire hospital in Wishaw.
“My forecast is that this is what is intended and I should be surprised if there not longer term plans along these lines in the NHS filing cabinets.
“I am therefore writing both to the SNP government Health Secretary and to the chief executive of NHS Lanarkshire asking for categorical assurances about the future of hospital services for Rutherglen and Cambuslang patients.
“It is vital that local people are able to continue to access consultants and hospital services at the main Glasgow hospitals, particularly the New Victoria Infirmary and the Southern General Hospital if that is what they want to do and if it is more convenient for them.
“There must be no question of NHS Board bureaucracy coming ahead of patient care and patient needs.
“We have been taking our petition to stop the GP out of hours changes round the doors in Rutherglen and there is no doubt that local people want to continue the current service at the Victoria rather than being forced to travel to Hamilton.”
Craig Cunningham, head of South Lanarkshire Community Health Partnership, NHS Lanarkshire, said local people were still able to make their views known on the proposal.
He explained: “Fewer and fewer GPs are working out of hours both in Lanarkshire and in other parts of Scotland. We have reached the point where it is becoming extremely difficult to provide a safe service.
“Staffing is extremely unpredictable which is affecting patients who often have to wait longer to be seen.
“We have worked with a wide range of stakeholders to develop proposals that can address these challenges and allow us to provide a safe and effective service. We want to hear people’s views on the proposals to ensure we put in place the best solution for the people of Lanarkshire.”
The consultation process includes eight open public meetings at a range of venues across Lanarkshire.