A review of Oban’s hospital should result in more services being offered and not less, MSP for Argyll and Bute Mike Russell has said.
Argyll and Bute Health and Social Care Partnership (HSCP), which is facing budget cuts of up to £24million over the next two years, is undertaking the review of Lorn and Islands Hospital.
Senior doctors have said it is not about making cutbacks, rather it is about finding new ways to attract consultants in the face of a nation-wide recruitment problem.
Mr Russell said: “The terms of reference of this review have made the community feel very uncomfortable. There seems to be an assumption that the health board is lining up Oban hospital for further cuts and even fewer services.
“I am of the opinion that the opposite needs to happen. Oban is a key hub for the West Highlands and is in reasonable travelling distance for most of my constituents.
“A hospital that had an increased range of services including dialysis and which was used by consultants from Glasgow and elsewhere to meet patients and conduct examinations is what everyone in the area wants and is certainly what they need.
“In addition the excellent work in places like Lochgilphead shows that ambitious teams of GPs can extend services in new ways and help their patients avoid having to leave the area for a range of treatments.
“There are great staff in Oban and great GPs. With the proper resourcing Oban hospital could become a model of community provision but that won’t happen if the health board and the Health and Social Care Partnership continue along the present route of endless reduction in services and endless centralisation.
“We should make a resolution for 2017 to have a new ambition for every organisation and facility in our area to deliver as much as possible, as well as possible, as locally as possible.
“The current review of Oban hospital could give a kick start to such a process, building as it can on existing first class facilities and a supportive, positive community.”
Yesterday, the NHS gave its reaction to a meeting last week to discuss the future of Lorn and Islands Hospital.
Chaired by NHS Highland director Elaine Wilkinson, the hospital’s project group considered a range of issues, including the National Clinical Strategy and how it links to rural general hospitals.
It agreed that the Lorn and Islands Hospital would continue to deliver a wide range of services on a 24/7 basis for the local community, including Accident and Emergency, and that there would be robust engagement as work proceeds.
Ms Wilkinson,said: “The project group is acutely aware of the value that the public place on Lorn and Islands Hospital and the services it provides for the local community.
“This was reflected by the views expressed by members of the public at the meeting held in the Corran Halls on Friday night.
“We are keen to gather these views from members of the public, staff and other stakeholders and we will be implementing a robust involvement and engagement process to ensure that everyone has an opportunity to feedback into the overall process.
“I also want to emphasise that the future of Lorn amd Islands Hospital is guaranteed and the aim of the project group is to continue to provide high quality services and deliver a sustainable future for the hospital.”