Integrated Care (Vale of Leven Hospital)

Question Time — Scottish Executive — General Questions – in the Scottish Parliament at 11:41 am on 14 June 2007.

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Photo of Jackie Baillie Jackie Baillie Labour 11:41, 14 June 2007

To ask the Scottish Executive what analysis of the 7,000 patients presenting at the Vale of Leven hospital integrated care project has been carried out by NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde. (S3O-211)

Photo of Nicola Sturgeon Nicola Sturgeon Scottish National Party

That is a matter for NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde but, as the member is aware, no decisions have been taken on proposals for service change at the Vale of Leven hospital. However, I have been clear that all future proposals for significant service change will be subject to rigorous independent scrutiny before public consultation. That will ensure that all information that health boards present is factual and evidence based and that the choice that is presented to the public is fair and genuine. I will make a further announcement soon about the form that such independent scrutiny will take.

If, following public consultation, national health service boards make proposals for significant service change, those proposals will come to me for a final decision. In considering them, I will operate a presumption against centralisation of services. That does not mean no change in any circumstances, but it means that any proposals will have to be robust, that all possible alternatives will have to be properly considered and that due weight must be given to public opinion.

I look forward to meeting the member in just over an hour's time to discuss the issue in more detail.

Photo of Jackie Baillie Jackie Baillie Labour

I thank the minister for her response and welcome the meeting that she has afforded me, which we will have in due course.

I understand from those involved in integrated care that little if any of the data underwent qualitative analysis by NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde in advance of its proposal to remove integrated care from the Vale of Leven hospital. Will the minister reaffirm that decisions on health service changes must be evidence based? Does she agree that if we are to take "Delivering for Health" from theory to implementation, pilots such as the integrated care model are critical? Will she therefore instruct a full analysis of integrated care at the Vale of Leven hospital, which is a model that might have resonance for other general hospitals in Scotland?

Photo of Nicola Sturgeon Nicola Sturgeon Scottish National Party

I hope that Jackie Baillie is reassured when I say that my decision to insist on independent scrutiny is designed to address the kind of concerns that she raises. Of course, the purpose of independent scrutiny is to ensure that any proposals coming from any health board are based on sound evidence. In the case of the Vale of Leven hospital, that will entail considering anything that the board says about the sustainability or otherwise of current arrangements. The whole purpose of independent scrutiny is to ensure that when the public are consulted on proposals, they know that they are based on sound evidence and present a fair and reasonable choice. I look forward to discussing those issues with the member in more detail very shortly.

Photo of Gil Paterson Gil Paterson Scottish National Party

The Cabinet Secretary for Health and Wellbeing will know that Greater Glasgow and Clyde NHS Board is considering the removal of services from the Vale of Leven hospital. Given that those services are vital to the people served by the hospital, I encourage her to use her influence to ensure that no further services are lost to the vale.

Photo of Nicola Sturgeon Nicola Sturgeon Scottish National Party

No proposals have yet come forward from Greater Glasgow and Clyde NHS Board. When they do, I will insist—as I just said to Jackie Baillie—that they are subjected to rigorous independent scrutiny. They will then be subjected to full and meaningful public consultation. When final proposals are shaped thereafter, they will come to me for a final decision, which I have said that I will base on certain factors. I will shortly have a meeting with Jackie Baillie and other local representatives, including the new SNP leader of the council in that area, at which I look forward to discussing these issues in more depth.