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Surgeon Says It's A Fatal Blow
Orthopaedic surgeon Sathar Thajam launched an outspoken attack on the plan as concerns grow among local residents that the A & E department at the hospital is being downgraded.
NHS Lanarkshire has announced it will concentrate orthopaedic trauma and elective services at Wishaw and Hairmyres hospitals for an interim period, in a bid to address staffing concerns and improve safety.
However, Mr Thajam, who worked at Monklands for 30 years, said that the plan would mean a reduced service at Monklands and questioned whether it would lead to any lasting benefits for the community.
The move has led to angry protests from people living in the hospital's catchment area, and a grassroots campaign has been formed to fight the decision.
Calling the plan "ill-advised, ill thought out, badly planned and totally unnecessary", Mr Thajam said that it would not address the staffing issues facing the three hospitals and would leave only one Registrar on call.
He said: "I have worked for 30 years in the Orthopaedic & Trauma Unit of MDGH Trust Hospital and know all the ins and outs of the functioning of this wonderful hospital that has served magnificently the people of North Lanarkshire all these years.
"I therefore, know what I am talking about when I say that it is a significant disservice, and a fatal body blow to the people of North Lanarkshire ... to allow a perfectly well functioning, well-staffed, well-equipped and certainly the best Orthopaedic and Trauma Unit in Lanarkshire to be dismantled."
Other concerns laid out by Mr Thajam in a statement sent to a public meeting on Sunday were that the move would lead to a cut in the number of beds available to patients, a reduction in the number of trainees working in A & E and a shift to treating minor injuries.
He also said that decision which should be made by orthopaedic specialists will be made by paramedics while they decide which hospital to take patients too.
Mr Thajam said: "Monklands Hospital provides excellent facilities for orthopaedic care of a wide catchment area of the local population of Monklands and its neighbouring boroughs, but when the Orthopaedic and Trauma unit at Monklands is closed, this will then cause significant disruption, to not only the elderly and the young, but also a vast number of the deprived population in this area as a whole.
"The argument that Mr Calum Campbell and the Lanarkshire Health Board put out continually, saying that there will be no disruption to the care of the elderly and the young following the closure of the Orthopaedic and Trauma unit at Monklands Hospital, is in my opinion, frankly ludicrous.
"If the elderly were to fall and break bones, they are brought to the A&E Department at Monklands Hospital where they are initially assessed by the A& E doctors or nurses and then immediately referred on to the Orthopaedic and Trauma unit at Monklands, where they are immediately assessed, admitted and necessary treatment carried out, and once they have recovered fully from their ordeal or operations, the are then safely discharged back to their homes or the community.
"The closure of the Orthopaedic and Trauma unit at Monklands Hospital will significantly affect patient care."
Dr Jane Burns NHS Lanarkshire divisional medical director of acute services, said: “The proposals are in line with a national approach agreed with the Scottish Government that NHS Scotland should work towards the delivery of a major trauma network with regional major trauma centres supported by local trauma units with enhanced diagnostic and treatment services.
“However, this long term vision is not achievable now due to the current constraints within NHS Lanarkshire and this interim step is required to secure the sustainability of the service for patients in Lanarkshire."