Fears have been raised that the health care of patients could be at risk if services at an Aberdeenshire hospital are downgraded, ahead of a public consultation on its future next week.
The Aberdeenshire Health and Social Care Partnership (AHSCP) is currently reviewing services at minor injury units (MIU) across the region, including the Jubilee Hospital in Huntly.
Next Wednesday, from 3pm to 7pm at Stewarts Hall in Huntly, representatives from the AHSCP will meet with the local community to discuss what could be on the horizon for the community hospital.
Although the final details of the project have not yet been revealed, fears have been raised of the consequences of potential downscaling.
Trained nurses have in the past been treating patients with serious emergency health conditions, however, there are now concerns they will be rerouted to A&E units further afield if services are downgraded.
Dr David Easton, who was medical director of Jubilee Hospital for around 20 years until he retired in 2014, said a reduction in services at the site would be “scandalous”.
He said: “This has happened already in Insch and Inverurie, and the same process is going to happen in Banff and Turriff.
“Downscaling is bad for people from not just Huntly, but people all across the north-east who find it easier to get to Huntly than to get to Dr Gray’s in Elgin, or Aberdeen Royal Infirmary.
“If the nurses in the hospital have somebody come to the door and the place is, for example, no longer properly staffed out of hours, if that somebody has a heart attack the nurses would be told to tell that patient to phone 999.
“This puts the nurses individually in a very difficult position, as their code of ethics states that if they are trained to a level that allows them to treat a condition then they must treat them.
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“This is scandalous. They’ll of course treat the patient, but could face repercussions.”
Alexander Burnett, Scottish Conservative MSP for Aberdeenshire West added: “I have written to NHS Grampian, seeking clarity on what is being proposed and what avenues the public will have to make their views known.”
Iain Ramsay, partnership manager for South Aberdeenshire said: “The AHSCP started the process of reviewing the provision of MIUs across Aberdeenshire early last year.
“The consultation event next Wednesday will be an opportunity for residents of Huntly and the surrounding area to come along and see what our preferred option for the continuation of the MIS at Jubilee Hospital will be.
“Myself and members of the health and social care team for Huntly will be at the session, and will be on hand to answer any questions and concerns.
“We will also look to further explain how the review process works, and what the various options we have considered for the service are.”