Scottish Government approves children's ward closure


The Scottish Government has approved plans to close a children's hospital ward, saying it is "in the best interests" of patients.

Health Secretary Shona Robison agreed on Friday to transfer inpatient and day case paediatrics from Ward 15 at the Royal Alexandra Hospital (RAH) in Paisley to the Royal Hospital for Children in Glasgow (RHCG).

But the move, put forward by NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde, has been branded by Scottish Labour as a "stab in the back" for families who campaigned against it.

West of Scotland Labour MSP Neil Bibby said: "This is a disgraceful political decision. The families and staff of the Children's Ward and everyone who uses the RAH have been stabbed in the back by the SNP Government.

"Thousands of local people have said loudly and clearly that they want the children's ward to be protected.

"The SNP Government had a choice - to listen to local families or to ignore them and they have chosen to completely ignore the views and wishes of local families."

NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde has welcomed the move, pointing to high-spec technology at RHCG.

The hospital has a dedicated Family Support and Information ?Service offering support for those accessing the site.

It provides funding to cover ?transport, fuel, travel expenses, or other forms of assistance identified.

Outpatient services and emergency care for those who self-refer will remain at RAH.

Dr Jennifer Armstrong, medical director, said: "The Royal Hospital for Children is one of the finest paediatric teaching hospitals in the UK and this decision will ensure that children from the Clyde area who require specialist hospital care will be able to receive their care in these state-of-the-art facilities."

Ms Robison rejected proposals to close Lightburn Hospital in Glasgow and redesign rehabilitation services for the elderly in the northeast of the city.

The Government has asked the health body to work with Glasgow City Health and Social Care Partnership and the local community to develop services in the East End of Glasgow before any relocation.

Ms Robison said: "The paediatric proposals that NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde have put forward, backed by overwhelming clinical support, have persuaded me that this new model of local paediatric services is in the best interests of children and will ensure that the majority of patient cases will continue to be seen and treated locally.

"I know the service many families have received from Ward 15 at the RAH has been highly valued, which is why I have approved these proposals on two conditions - that the health board must maintain and continue to improve community based paediatric services and maximise local provision, and that they must work directly with families from the Paisley area on specific, individual treatment/service access plans."

Meanwhile, Scottish Liberal Democrat health spokesperson Alex Cole-Hamilton MSP warned the decision to close the ward will be "a bitter blow to parents and campaigners" who have battled to keep facilities open.

Scottish Conservative shadow health secretary Miles Briggs added: "All across Scotland children's services are being failed by the SNP."