(Nicola Sturgeon MSP addresses a public meeting in Clydebank Town Hall, March 2016)
Since 2006, when the Labour Scottish Executive in Holyrood transferred responsibility for health services in the Vale of Leven and Dumbarton to Greater Glasgow Health Board, the renamed Greater Glasgow and Clyde Health Board has failed to deliver a comprehensive plan to meet the healthcare needs of our communities. It is disgraceful that at best we are treated as an afterthought, but too often we are considered to be an unwanted burden on the Health Board’s Glasgow centric service delivery model.
I note with disappointment and grave concern that instead of working in a constructive way to actually make a difference, Jackie Baillie MSP is instead grandstanding and undermining the hospital and its clinical provision, as a means to boost her profile, by appearing to work hard on the issues but essentially achieving nothing.
Labour recently joined with the Tories to pull political stunt at the Scottish Parliament, calling on the SNP to intervene. This was nothing more than an effort to create a photo opportunity and strengthen their friendship. Everyone knows that the Scottish Government cannot step in while a consultation process is ongoing. The only people who can stop this right now are Greater Glasgow and Clyde Health Board.
What people don’t appreciate is that the Health board has seven elected Councillors at the helm. It is their decisions that are directing how the Health Board delivers services and they are responsible for the negativity all of us feel; it seems like there is a constant dark cloud hanging over us.
All seven of those Councillors are Labour Councillors, and I would suggest that Jackie Baillie’s time would be better spent talking to these seven Labour Councillors, who have the power to remove the threat to our local services.
It’s incredibly disappointing that only two of the Labour Councillors on the Board voted to remove the Vale of Leven and Inverclyde Maternity units form the consultation.
At this point the Scottish Government can’t ‘step in’ as has been suggested by some as the Board haven’t proposed anything to them. Given that the First Minister and Cabinet Secretary for Health have both confirmed their commitment to the Vale of Leven Hospital numerous time over the past year, it is clear that following the consultation, any proposals from the Health Board to remove maternity services at the Vale of Leven Hospital would not be looked upon favourably.
Numbers of people using the Midwife led unit have fallen and I believe this is due in no small part to the failure of the Health Board to promote and recommend the unit to expectant mothers. They are deliberately setting the Vale of Leven Hospital up to fail; there are a large number of services available at the Vale of Leven Hospital that people simply don’t know about and even local GPs are not always referring patients locally, instead defaulting to the RAH in Paisley or other Hospitals in Glasgow.
The Health Board are hoping that the general public do not engage in the consultation and they can somehow convince the Scottish Government that the services are not valued; this is simply a fallacy.
All it takes is a single vote by the Health Board to call a halt and remove the Vale of Leven hospital from this consultation. If all seven Labour Councillors backed our local services, the other board members would follow that political leadership. How many times has Jackie Baillie claimed to ‘Save the Vale’? She can end this threat right now, if she and her Labour colleagues on the Health Board actually want to.
The Health Board’s consultation on the future of maternity services at the Vale of Leven Hospital is live and I want encourage everyone to make your views known.
To make it as easy as possible for you to access the consultation, I have posted the details on the front page of this website at www.martindocherty.scot. I have also pinned them to the top of my Facebook page, and they will remain there until the consultation closes so everyone can easily find out how to contribute.