St Margaret of Scotland Hospice (Funding)

Question Time — Scottish Executive — Health and Wellbeing – in the Scottish Parliament at 2:15 pm on 4th December 2008.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Ross Finnie Ross Finnie Liberal Democrat 2:15 pm, 4th December 2008

To ask the Scottish Executive what action it is taking to prevent NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde from withdrawing funding from St Margaret of Scotland hospice in Clydebank in light of public and political support for its continued existence. (S3O-5133)

Photo of Nicola Sturgeon Nicola Sturgeon Scottish National Party

The continued existence of St Margaret of Scotland hospice is not in doubt. As the member is aware, NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde is responsible for planning, providing and securing the provision of national health service services for its population. St Margaret's receives NHS funding for particular services that it provides, and the nature of those services determines the type of funding that is provided. NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde continues to work with the board of St Margaret's on the services that could be provided in line with the NHS board's overall approach to the care and health needs of the population.

Photo of Ross Finnie Ross Finnie Liberal Democrat

With all due respect to the cabinet secretary, I am afraid that I find unhelpful the comment:

"The continued existence of St Margaret of Scotland hospice is not in doubt."

The cabinet secretary is well aware that NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde appears to be willing to keep the building open but has no intention of allowing it to continue as a hospice. That is the nub of the question. In its latest letter to the management of the hospice, dated 13 November, NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde sets out alternative means by which St Margaret's might remain open, but they do not include services that would use the skills of the nursing staff at St Margaret's or its skills as a hospice. I repeat my question: what steps will the cabinet secretary take to ensure that St Margaret's continues as a hospice?

Photo of Nicola Sturgeon Nicola Sturgeon Scottish National Party

With the greatest respect to Ross Finnie, it is incumbent on him when dealing with an issue as serious as this to familiarise himself fully with the facts and not to scaremonger needlessly in the chamber. He should be aware that NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde's proposals affect not palliative care provision at St Margaret of Scotland hospice but continuing care bed provision. I support the work of the hospice, which I have visited, but, when funding services that are provided by voluntary organisations, NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde and all other NHS boards must consider the needs of the populations that they serve.

Discussions between the board of NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde and the board of the hospice are on-going. I understand that NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde has proposed two options that would secure the hospice's future and that, because no response has yet been forthcoming from the hospice, no formal proposal has been put to the board of NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde. I encourage both organisations to continue positive dialogue, in the interests of the people and patients whom they both serve.

Photo of Des McNulty Des McNulty Labour

The minister is being disingenuous. She knows very well that the removal of two thirds of the funding that goes to St Margaret of Scotland hospice will make it very difficult for it to survive as a palliative care centre. At present, relatives of patients are being told by consultants that, because no new continuing care patients will be admitted to the hospice, there is no point in patients being placed on a waiting list for admission. It is not right that people are being diverted from the excellent facilities at St Margaret's to the dilapidated facilities at Blawarthill hospital, just along the road. Does the minister accept that St Margaret's delivers outstanding care to both continuing and palliative care patients and that the co-location of continuing and palliative care benefits patients and their relatives?

Photo of Nicola Sturgeon Nicola Sturgeon Scottish National Party

I have already said what I think about St Margaret of Scotland hospice. I hope that all members accept that any NHS board or other statutory agency that commissions services from another agency must ensure that it commissions services that reflect the needs of its population. I would like the issue to be resolved without delay, because that is in the interests of everyone concerned.

I understand that the board of NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde has put two options to the hospice's board, which I encourage to respond to those options. I also encourage both organisations to have a constructive dialogue that will lead to a resolution. I hope that all members, whatever their party, who have the concerns of the people involved genuinely at heart will do likewise.

Photo of Gil Paterson Gil Paterson Scottish National Party

Does the cabinet secretary consider that sufficient progress has been towards addressing the issue of future service provision?

Photo of Nicola Sturgeon Nicola Sturgeon Scottish National Party

It probably goes without saying that I would have liked progress towards resolving the situation to have been made faster. Those who can resolve the situation are the board of NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde and the board of the hospice. I encourage both sides to discuss the proposals that have been made, so that a resolution can be found that is right for the populations that NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde serves and that allows St Margaret of Scotland hospice to continue doing its work.