Health and Wellbeing – in the Scottish Parliament at 2:15 pm on 28th June 2007.
To ask the Scottish Executive when it next intends to meet representatives of NHS Ayrshire and Arran. (S3O-437)
I expect to meet the chair of NHS Ayrshire and Arran at my regular meeting with national health service board chairs on 23 July, and I will meet other NHS Ayrshire and Arran representatives when I chair the board's annual review later this year. That review was scheduled to take place on 3 September, but I have advised the board that I expect it to give priority over the coming months to developing revised proposals for the retention of accident and emergency services at Ayr and Crosshouse hospitals. I have, therefore, decided to postpone the review and I will set a new date shortly.
The minister is no doubt aware of a paper that went before the board yesterday that recommended that five community casualty units, including the one at Ayrshire central hospital in my constituency, should be put on hold. Is she also aware that, according to that report, it will not be possible under the timescales set out by the cabinet secretary to provide the same level of engagement, involvement and public consultation as we had in the initial review of services—a level of engagement with which, I believe, she herself was unhappy? Is she concerned that the report refers to the potential disillusionment of clinical staff and loss of clinical engagement? Finally, will she confirm to the people whom I represent whether the community casualty unit at Ayrshire central hospital will go ahead—yes or no?
I say to the member as gently as I possibly can that the new Government had a manifesto commitment to save the accident and emergency unit at Ayr hospital. In case she missed the event, we won the election, and we have now met that commitment. Since then, I have set a timescale for NHS Ayrshire and Arran that strikes the right balance between getting the decisions right and getting on with the job. I assure the member that with the process undertaken by