Stuart McMillan MSP for Greenock and Inverclyde has today met with Jane Grant and John Brown, the Chief Executive and Chair of NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde, to discuss the recent decision by the health board to temporarily close Inverclyde’s GPs Out of Hours (OOH) service.
Prior to the meeting, Stuart had written to Jane Grant and submitted a number of Freedom of Information (FoI) questions seeking information about the OOH service. The SNP MSP also wrote to the Cabinet Secretary for Health and Sport, Jeane Freeman MSP, on the matter.
Following the meeting, Stuart said:
“The decision to temporarily close Inverclyde’s GPs OOH Service has caused serious concern in my constituency. The service does not only cover Inverclyde but also parts of North Ayrshire.
“Inverclyde has a growing older population and unfortunately the recent SIMD statistics published indicated Inverclyde has some of the most deprived data zones in the country. Not everyone owns a car and the patient transport service isn’t always reliable as they are busy. In addition, not everyone can afford to pay to get a taxi up and down prior to reclaiming the money back.
“This decision is fundamentally wrong and I have put forward an alternative proposal for consideration.
“I would like the GP OOH service to be maintained in the Inverclyde Royal Hospital (IRH), the Vale of Leven Hospital (VoL), the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital (QUEH) and Stobhill Hospital.
“The QUEH is on the Southside and is between both the Royal Alexandria Hospital (RAH) in Paisley and the new Victoria Hospital so it makes the perfect choice. It is also only 6.4 miles and 7.3 miles respectively away from both hospitals.
“The journey from the IRH to either RAH or QUEH is 20 miles or 23.4 miles respectively.
“This temporary situation should cover everyone in the health board area and should be made for the benefit of every person in the health board area. This new proposal ensures there are two hospitals on either side of the river, and the main population centres have two hospitals to cover them. In addition, residents from Renfrew, Erskine, Inchinnan and Bishopton would be just as quick, and even quicker in most cases, attending the QEUH.
“As it stands, Inverclyde is getting the rough end of the stick and public opinion is clear that this decision needs to change.
“I have spoken with a number of angry constituents and other local elected politicians who also support this proposition.”
Inverclyde’s MP, Ronnie Cowan, added:
“The new proposal is a more elegant solution considering the geography of the areas that require the service. Obviously, a greater provision would be more acceptable but in terms of cutting our cloth to reflect the resources available this is preferable to the offer on the table.
West Dunbartonshire MP, Martin Docherty-Hughes, whose constituency covers the VoL, added:
“The local GP OOH service is vitally important to my constituents and I’ve made clear to the Health Board that it must be restored as soon as possible.
“It’s unacceptable that patients in West Dunbartonshire now face a 36-mile round trip to Paisley or Glasgow to access OOH services. It’s a long way to travel, especially for those who rely on public transport or have to deal with difficult conditions on the roads.
“I understand the pressures facing the Health Board due to a chronic shortage of GPs across the UK, but the lack of consultation over these new OOH arrangements is disappointing.
“Patients in West Dunbartonshire and Inverclyde are being disproportionately disadvantaged by these changes compared to other areas.
“The alternative proposals brought forward by Stuart McMillan MSP make a lot of sense and deserve serious consideration by NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde.
“I’ll continue doing all I can in conjunction with colleagues at the Scottish Parliament to deliver sustainable and reliable health services at the Vale Hospital.”