Children's Services (Perth Royal Infirmary)

Health and Community Care – in the Scottish Parliament at 2:00 pm on 9th December 2004.

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Photo of Murdo Fraser Murdo Fraser Conservative 2:00 pm, 9th December 2004

To ask the Scottish Executive what plans it has to develop children's services at Perth royal infirmary. (S2O-4440)

Photo of Rhona Brankin Rhona Brankin Labour

NHS Tayside is responsible for planning and developing local health services. Ninewells hospital, Perth royal infirmary and Scotland's first ambulatory care and treatment centre at Stracathro together deliver a full range of specialist services for children. Recent developments in Perth and Kinross include the establishment of community paediatric nursing services and paediatric respiratory research facilities. NHS Tayside's acute balance of care project will integrate the full range of hospital services for adults and children across hospital sites. That is consistent with our aim of making sure that services are as local as possible and as specialised as necessary.

Photo of Murdo Fraser Murdo Fraser Conservative

When listing the available services, the minister did not mention the fact that the 24-hour children's ward in Perth was cut this summer. That has caused some concern among my constituents in Perth and the surrounding area. For example, one parent contacted me with an horrendous tale about his teenage daughter who was taken to Perth in an emergency situation and had to wait for a paediatric nurse to be sent in a taxi from Ninewells hospital to provide treatment. Does the minister recognise that such arrangements pose dangers to youngsters in Perth? Will she take action to prevent the steady erosion of Perth royal infirmary's services?

Photo of Rhona Brankin Rhona Brankin Labour

If the member will furnish us with information regarding the case that he mentioned, we will investigate it. NHS Tayside estimates that the acute balance of care project will mean that at least 20,000 people a year will no longer have to travel from Perth and Kinross to Ninewells, which hardly represents centralisation. Pressure on Ninewells will be reduced and resources will be used in a better and more efficient way as a level of activity is generated that will secure Perth royal infirmary's future as an acute general hospital. That is excellent news for the people of Perth and Kinross and for the people of Tayside. I believe that NHS Tayside is to be congratulated on its vision and on the way in which it has worked with its partners and the people of Tayside in developing the acute balance of care project.

Photo of John Swinney John Swinney Scottish National Party

I welcome what the minister has said about the transfer of functions from Ninewells hospital to Perth royal infirmary, which will minimise travelling distances for my Perthshire constituents. However, does she accept that there is a general frustration in the community arising from the fact that, although the NHS can quickly remove services, it takes an awful lot longer to get services put back into areas, which is why there is a long wait for the implementation of the acute balance of care proposals? Is she prepared to consider ways of speeding up the process of transferring functions to Perth royal infirmary to realise the vision that she has set out and to minimise the travelling of my constituents? Will she also take particular interest in the concerns that I am hearing from my constituents about the implications of the out-of-hours service in extending travelling distances and in making accessing health care a great deal more inconvenient for members of the public?

Photo of Rhona Brankin Rhona Brankin Labour

That range of issues needs to be considered carefully in relation to implementation, which I am quite happy to discuss with the member.