Campaigners given little hope of saving Stobhill services

From The Herald

ANDY Kerr, the health minister, last night gave little hope to campaigners fighting to retain in-patient beds and casualty services at Stobhill Hospital in Glasgow during an angry public meeting held to discuss its future.

The minister was repeatedly told he “was not listening” to concerns over the proposed removal of overnight beds and accident and emergency services from the hospital, which serves about 230,000 people in East Dunbartonshire, North Glasgow and parts of North Lanarkshire, and was warned the move “will cost lives”.

Mr Kerr, who is the first health minister to meet Stobhill campaigners, said: “While I accept the emotion and passion surrounding Stobhill I also have to be sure that I make the right decision for patients. That will continue to be tested.

“Some people are living in a health care system of 20 years ago. They don’t believe in day-care surgery which is the future of health care. It is what patients want, has proven outcomes, and is what can be delivered in this new facility.”

In a final statement which appeared to dash the hopes of the campaigners, he added: “I have to say, in the proposals, I see that being delivered by what I currently have in front of me.”

Many of the 300-strong audience who last night packed St Mary’s Church hall in Kirkintilloch commended plans to build a new hospital at Stobhill.

However, they expressed serious reservations about safety, security, travel and access involved in travelling to Glasgow Royal Infirmary where it is proposed all acute activity and beds for the area served by Stobhill will be referred.

One irate resident said Labour had already “paid the price” at the ballot box twice in recent years with the election to Holyrood in 2003 of Jean Turner, a retired GP, on a “Save Stobhill” ticket, and more recently Jo Swinson, the Liberal Democrat MP, in former Labour stronghold seats. Both of them were among the crowd at the meeting last night.

Ms Swinson said she remained concerned at plans to downgrade Stobhill, which one campaigner said was still being used to take “overflow beds” from Glasgow Royal Infirmary, and expressed fears that the the downgrading was a “fait accompli”.

NHS Greater Glasgow says proposed changes to Stobhill are part of a £750m plan to transform Glasgow’s hospital services and replace outdated buildings with better facilities.

The board says planning is at an advanced stage for the building of two brand new hospitals at the Stobhill and Victoria hospital sites in an investment of more than £190m. These would be day-care units.

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