Lib Dems urge Health Minister to intervene over St. Margaret’s

Jo and Ross Finnie MSP have called on Scottish Health Minister Nicola Sturgeon to intervene after plans to go ahead with removing beds from St. Margaret’s Hospice were announced.


NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde announced on Friday that it would go ahead with plans to move 30 of the continuing care beds to a new site at Blawarthill. As expected, this would mean St. Margaret’s Hospice losing funding for its continuing care provision from 2012, however it would still offer palliative care. It is still uncertain whether and how the 30 beds at St. Margaret’s currently used for continuing care will be utilised.

In strongly worded letters to Health Secretary Nicola Sturgeon, Jo and Ross Finnie have called on her to intervene to put the plans on hold, saying the Health Board has not treat St. Margaret’s with the respect this much valued hospice deserves.

Commenting, Jo said:

“There is overwhelming support for St. Margaret’s Hospice among people in East Dunbartonshire, many of whom know someone who has benefited from its excellent services. This announcement comes as yet another disappointment.

“In the past Nicola Sturgeon has said this is a matter for the Health Board to decide in consultation with the hospice, but as experience has so far shown, that consultation has not been at all productive. I am calling on the Health Secretary to intervene without delay to put a stop to these plans, at least until an independent review of the situation has been carried out.”

Commenting, Ross Finnie said:

“The treatment of St Margaret’s Hospice is entirely unacceptable. NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde reiterates its plans to press ahead with the Blawarthill development a day after it writes to St Margaret’s Hospice stating it cannot make use of their beds as part of an overall care plan.

“I fail to see the need to provide additional capacity for the frail elderly at the same time as they are advising St Margaret’s Hospice that they do not need their beds.

“I have written to the Health Secretary urging her to intervene and end the deplorable treatment of this excellent Hospice.”

The text of Jo’s letter appears below:

Nicola Sturgeon

Cabinet Secretary for Health & Wellbeing

St Andrew’s House

Regent Road


30 November 2009

St. Margaret of Scotland Hospice

As you may be aware, NHS Greater Glasgow & Clyde announced on 27th November its decision to go ahead with the development of the Blawarthill site as part of its plans to modernise services for frail elderly patients, and the consequent removal of 30 continuing care beds at St. Margaret of Scotland Hospice in Clydebank.

I have expressed to you in previous letters my opposition to the removal of these facilities, which are very much valued by many of my constituents in East Dunbartonshire. In your last letter to me on this matter, dated 27th January 2009, you agreed with me that an appropriate resolution should be reached without delay, but stated that this was a matter NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde to determine through engagement with its stakeholders. I have also made you aware that the relationship between Greater Glasgow Health Board and St. Margaret’s Hospice has not been a productive one, and communication has all but broken down. An appropriate resolution is therefore unlikely to be reached in the manner you suggest, and I am therefore calling on you to intervene.

I still believe that an independent review, including consideration of the proposals put forward by the Health Board and by the hospice, would be the best way forward in this situation.

It is my understanding that a board meeting of NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde tomorrow morning will discuss options for the future of St. Margaret’s Hospice after its continuing care services are moved to Blawarthill in 2012. I urge you to contact the Health Board without delay to put these plans on hold pending an independent review of the situation.

Yours sincerely,

Jo Swinson MP

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