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The final item of business is a members’ business debate on motion S4M-00681, in the name of Paul Martin, on stopping the closure of Lightburn hospital. The debate will be concluded without any question being put.
That the Parliament notes with deep concern the decision by NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde to close Lightburn Hospital in the east end of Glasgow and to relocate its services to Glasgow Royal Infirmary and Stobhill Hospital; considers that this proposal will have a devastating effect for many people in the wider east end of Glasgow who rely on this local healthcare facility and believes that this will result in lengthy journeys by often unsuitable public transport; believes that local rehabilitation healthcare facilities are important in ensuring a more effective recovery; recognises the health challenges that face the communities in the east end of Glasgow and considers that the closure will have a devastating effect in their battle to improve health and wellbeing; welcomes the Scottish Government’s policy on the presumption against centralisation, and would welcome such a presumption being taken into account when the future of local facilities are being considered.
I thank those members who have supported my motion and I welcome the save Lightburn hospital campaigners who join us in the public gallery. The debate also gives me an important opportunity to pay tribute to Gerry McCann, who has led the community campaign for Lightburn hospital’s future in the east end community.
Those members who are not familiar with the east end of Glasgow where Lightburn hospital is located will have heard on numerous occasions about the horrendous health challenges that the east end of Glasgow faces, which health professionals, academics, the press and the media have often advised us of. For example, 32 per cent of people who live there are more likely to die from heart disease, 36 per cent of them are more likely to have their health classified as not good and 40 per cent of them are more likely to die from lung cancer.
Taking that background into consideration, it seems astonishing that Greater Glasgow and Clyde NHS Board proposes to accelerate the deterioration of those health figures by closing the very health facility that could assist in their improvement. For 65 years, Lightburn has been a lifeline facility for many of its users. Its 75 beds have been used by patients who require intensive support, such as those with Parkinson’s. I pay tribute to the valued service that staff at Lightburn have provided over those years.
I do not doubt for a minute that we are all united in our aspiration to improve public health. That should go without saying. I would have expected the same of Greater Glasgow and Clyde NHS Board but, during its consultation on Lightburn’s future, it has displayed little concern for those people who will have to spend an additional 90 minutes on bus journeys to visit relatives or to attend day appointments. The board has been unable to deal with the many arguments that have been put to it in connection with public transport, and it has failed to provide evidence that the proposed changes would improve public health, which should be the aspiration of any health board. Its arrogance towards, and lack of concern for, those people who use Lightburn was displayed recently when it evicted the Parkinson’s group from the facility that has assisted its members’ rehabilitation for many years. That is clearly unacceptable.
It is clear from my dealings with the health board over the years that a trend of running down health facilities that are earmarked for closure has prevailed for many years. It is the job of this elected chamber to stand up to that unacceptable practice of running down services before decisions have been taken by the relevant minister, and it is time that we did so.
In moving forward, I call on the Cabinet Secretary for Health, Wellbeing and Cities Strategy—who, it must be noted, has unfortunately not attended the debate; I would welcome an explanation of why that is the case from the Minister for Public Health—to reject the recommendation that the health board has put to her. I do so for a number of reasons, which I included in my submission to the consultation process, but let me specify two of them.
First, the health board has again presided over a flawed consultation process in which, from the outset, it has promoted its own agenda by advising us of its preferred option. The process was so flawed that much of the information that was provided requires further clarification. I will elaborate. The board reports in its transport needs assessment that more than 80 per cent of those who attend the day hospital at Lightburn use an ambulance or patient transport and that less than 20 per cent of them travel by car. I note that the document says that none of them uses bus or train to travel to Lightburn hospital.
To suggest in that document that everyone from the east end has access to a car or patient transport shows clearly how out of touch the health board is with the reality of the local situation. Car ownership in the east end is among the lowest in the United Kingdom. It must be recognised that many of my constituents will have to use public transport—limited as it is, given the challenges that we face in the bus industry. That is a flaw in the consultation document proposals.
Secondly, and most important of all, I ask the minister to recognise the negative impact that such changes will have on the community and to take into consideration the fact that poor public transport links to the other sites will ensure that the residents of the east end of Glasgow face genuine challenges every day. We need to recognise that east-end residents will simply give up on visiting a relative who needs a visit in hospital, or give up on the much longer journey to an important day patient appointment.
I would think that the minister would have preferred an objective process that allowed for a genuine discussion on the hospital’s future, not a carefully crafted consultation document that pointed towards the response that the health board would welcome.
I do not doubt that the decision will be difficult for the Cabinet Secretary for Health, Wellbeing and Cities Strategy, Nicola Sturgeon. We acknowledge that she must take the decision based on the facts that are placed before her. However, this case is the first test of the Government’s stated presumption against centralisation. It is the first opportunity that the cabinet secretary has had this session to put that policy into action, and I call on her to act on it.
The cabinet secretary will have to consider all the facts. I ask her to reflect on the fact that closing a facility that has been part of the community for 65 years would condemn the east end’s residents to more of the health inequalities that we have witnessed over a number of years.
I call on members to support the motion in my name.
I am all too aware that we live in difficult times and that difficult decisions must be made. I have some background on the matter because, at the moment, there is a pre-consultation on the closure of ward 15—the paediatric ward—at the Royal Alexandra hospital in Paisley. The arguments are similar, as is the debate that is going on with NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde.
I say to the minister that my experience is that NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde has been difficult to work with at times. It has made the situation difficult for parents and national health service staff, but we are working across the parties locally—which can be difficult in radical Renfrewshire—to get the best out of it. It is important that we get a clinical reason to retain ward 15.
It seems that the Labour Party always tries to politicise such debates; I find that difficult. Numerous times, whether in Paisley or Glasgow, Labour hypocritically blames everyone but itself for such decisions. I find myself speaking on a Labour motion to stop the closure of a hospital—Lightburn hospital—that the same party in Glasgow City Council voted to close 10 months ago. That shows the duplicity of Labour in politics from chamber to chamber.
Paul Martin rose—
If Mr Martin wishes to explain himself, I am happy for him to do so.
We should always welcome politicians showing humility. I have here the charter that Gordon Matheson, the leader of Glasgow City Council, signed. He listened to the campaigners and elected members and took the decision that his council would not accept the flawed consultation. Does George Adam accept that that is an example of a politician showing humility and that we should welcome that?
I accept that it is the action of the leader of Glasgow City Council as he goes into a difficult council election next year. Those are the politics of expediency, not the politics of humility.
We find ourselves in the same situation that we were in in Holyrood in 2002. I am sure that the individuals who were involved at the time remember that they were instrumental in starting the process of decision making about the hospital. Perhaps I should not be too surprised, given Labour’s record on the health service and hospitals in particular.
In 2007, we had a new Administration at Holyrood, and the new health secretary, Nicola Sturgeon, announced that the proposed closures of accident and emergency hospitals in Ayr and Monklands would be reversed. At the time of the cabinet secretary’s announcement that we would keep the hospitals open, Andy Kerr said that she had
“abdicated her responsibility to take tough decisions” and that the announcement would
“cause months of uncertainty, put services at risk, shatter the confidence of clinicians, cause a flight of specialist skills and, most notably—as the evidence demonstrates—put patients’ lives at risk”.—[Official Report, 6 June 2007; c 395-396.]
Once again, the Labour Party’s arguments are all over the place.
In the year and a half since Nicola Sturgeon’s decision to keep Monklands hospital open, there were 110,782 accident and emergency attendees at Monklands and 69,613 at Ayr.
I will finish my point.
If Labour had been elected in 2007, how many people would have had elongated journeys for accident and emergency treatment? I am willing to put my faith in the current SNP Government’s record and that of the previous Administration. Waiting times have gone down; we have brought in free prescriptions and 1,000 extra cleaners in hospitals; 1 million more Scots are registered with NHS dentists; and £840 million of investment has been made in the new Southern general hospital.
I thank Paul Martin for securing the debate. I also welcome the members of the East Glasgow Parkinson’s support group to Parliament this evening along with some of my colleagues from Glasgow City Council.
There is widespread concern at Greater Glasgow and Clyde NHS Board’s decision to close Lightburn hospital, as was demonstrated by the recent march and rally calling for the plans to be dropped.
As some members will be aware, the east end of Glasgow has some of the poorest health statistics in Scotland and the United Kingdom. We know that the rates of heart disease, stroke and cancer are extremely high and that life expectancy figures, particularly for men, are at an alarming level. We must therefore question why our local communities, which rely on the vital services that are provided at Lightburn hospital, will be cut off from them and will be given little or no alternative.
The lack of alternative for local people is why the Scottish Government must step up and keep Lightburn hospital open. Rates of car ownership are significantly lower in the east end than they are in Glasgow as a whole, which means that more people in the area rely on public transport. However, the bus services coming out of the east end are limited, particularly in Cranhill, from where there is no public transport after 7 o’clock. As local people will rely on public transport to get to alternative hospitals, they are left with no alternative. Even if someone meets the criteria and qualifies for patient transport, it finishes at half past 6 in the evening, leaving local people with no alternative. With no direct trains or buses to Stobhill hospital from the wider east end area, local people will again be left with no alternative.
Even if someone is able to get to a different hospital, there is no guarantee that it will be able to take the patients that Lightburn would have been able to take. Stobhill hospital has been selected as one of the hospitals that could shoulder the burden of the closure of the Lightburn hospital, but the acute bed space that would be required at Stobhill is not even in place, so where is the viable alternative for patients?
I heard today that a person from the east end of Glasgow has had to be hospitalised in Edinburgh, which means that he does not have the vital support of his family, who cannot afford to go there on a daily basis.
What all this means for local people is that there is no alternative to Lightburn hospital if it closes. That is why they have campaigned so strongly to keep it open and why the Cabinet Secretary for Health, Wellbeing and Cities Strategy must listen to those calls and act to halt the hospital’s closure.
I thank Paul Martin for securing this important members’ business debate. As Anne McTaggart said, the East Glasgow Parkinson’s support group is present in the gallery, so I welcome them and put on the record my thanks for the incredible work that they have done in their campaign, which has been robust and rigorous.
The members’ business debates in the evening give us a chance to discuss some of the most important issues in our localities. There can be few issues more important than the potential closure of a hospital. When John Swinney spoke to members in the chamber last week, there was the usual, predictable huffing and puffing from Opposition members about the spending review—I am sure that we probably did the same when the shoe was on the other foot; that is the nature of politics at times. However, as the dust has settled and the analysis continues, no one in the chamber, as George Adam said, is under any illusion that we are living in anything but the most difficult circumstances for at least a generation. No member here doubts that difficult decisions have to be made by the Scottish Government and by every layer of government, including at a local level.
One thing that I am pleased is no longer a strain—although the effects are still very much felt—is the use of expensive private finance initiative contracts to build hospitals and schools. Just this week, the UK Government announced that 60 hospitals are under threat of closure in England due to expensive PFI deals that were negotiated by the previous Government. The burden of that debt will outlive us and transfer on to the shoulders of future generations. It is worth mentioning that this Government has an outstanding record of keeping hospitals open. As has been said, one of its first acts, of course, was to keep open the accident and emergency wards at the Monklands and Vale of Leven hospitals.
I need to crack on but, when I get through some of my points, I will take the member’s intervention.
I do not doubt that Paul Martin genuinely believes that Lightburn hospital should be spared from closure. However, there are some questions that must be answered. He is undoubtedly aware that, as has been mentioned, it was his colleagues in Glasgow City Council who voted for the closure of Lightburn hospital. In the committee papers, which are in the public domain, it is clear that the council leader, Gordon Matheson, personally pushed through approval for the closure. The exact minute reads:
Option 2, of course, was the closure of Lightburn. Not only did the ruling administration of the council pass the bill, it prevented a motion from SNP councillors, one of whom was James Dornan, to delay the decision and extend the consultation.
Can we now accept that we need to move forward in this debate, given that the council leader has accepted the arguments put to him by the protesters? Will the member now join the campaign?
It is admirable to want to move on, but we have to build on the foundations of where this came from. Clearly, it is a highly politicised debate. I will come back to exactly what Paul Martin said, but he cannot just move on and ignore the decisions that he is now asking the Government to overturn. We need to see where all this stemmed from.
All this was done by the leader of Glasgow City Council, who then had the audacity to turn up to a press call to sign a petition—Paul Martin showed us a copy of it—supporting the campaign to save the very hospital that he had condemned just a few months earlier. The last time I saw such a volte face was when Nick Clegg ripped up his National Union of Students pledge and jeopardised the future of an entire generation by voting for tuition fees.
Again, I have no doubt that Paul Martin genuinely wishes Lightburn hospital to be kept open if at all possible. I would welcome it if he could say what discussions he had with council colleagues at the time. Did he approach them to vote against the closure when it came before the council? What was the nature of the discussions and why did he not condemn his colleagues for how they voted when the decision was made?
I support an extension to the consultation process so that the widest range of views can be heard. I know from speaking to many in the local area that Lightburn hospital is a valuable community asset, given that 450 elderly people are cared for there every year.
I, too, will be making representations to the cabinet secretary.
Nobody wants to see the closure of a single one of our communities’ hospitals. However, what angers people more and puts them completely off engaging in this political process is the hypocrisy and the double standards that are sometimes exhibited by a minority in the process.
I welcome the opportunity to take part in this evening’s members’ business debate, which I congratulate Paul Martin on securing.
As Humza Yousaf said, these debates are important because they allow us to bring local issues to the floor of the Parliament. It is therefore regrettable that some SNP speakers have been diverted into launching political diatribes against the Labour Party, rather than concentrating on the concerns of the campaigners who have come to the Parliament tonight.
As well as being the MSP for the neighbouring constituency to Lightburn hospital, which some of my constituents use, I have family connections in the east end, so I am very familiar with the hospital, which I have visited as a relative on many occasions. I am aware that the hospital has been central to the community in the east end for many years and that it is very much recognised as providing appropriate healthcare.
I congratulate Gerry McCann and the other campaigners on waging such a successful campaign. The fact that the campaign in that locality attracted 14,000 signatures shows the strength of support for retaining the hospital. The campaigners were successful not only in attracting signatures but in taking the message out into the communities affected by its potential closure.
Paul Martin made two specific points that are very important. One was about transport. I am aware that not everyone in the east end and in my constituency has a car. There is quite a big elderly population, who require public transport to get to hospital. As some other members have pointed out, if the hospital were to close, the length of journey that would be required to get to the alternatives would make things particularly difficult.
The other important point that Paul Martin made was about relatives going to visit patients. What keeps patients, particularly elderly patients, going in hospital is the thought of a relative or a friend coming to visit them. Over the years, many people in the east end have faithfully visited patients who have unfortunately been hospitalised in Lightburn. Moving the resource to another area would have a deeply debilitating effect on visits from families and relatives.
As Paul Martin has correctly pointed out, Gordon Matheson has recognised the strength of the local campaign that has been waged. Perhaps the SNP members present would achieve more credibility in the eyes of the campaigners if they showed the same humility.
I realise that I am running out of time, so I want to pay tribute to the Parkinson’s unit within Lightburn hospital, which I know provides a particular specialist service, which Gerry McCann and other local patients use. It is important to try and retain that service in the local area.
Parliament and the cabinet secretary have an important opportunity to listen to local campaigners and bring about change in the local area. Politics is about making a difference. Paul Martin has brought this issue to the Parliament. Let us make a difference. I urge the cabinet secretary to reject the decision by the health board.
I first remind members that North Lanarkshire went through the same type of sham consultation on the closure of Monklands accident and emergency department a number of years ago. NHS Lanarkshire moved for closure, totally dismissing all public objections. The local Labour Party came out against the closure, but the Labour Party in this Parliament agreed with the proposal to close it. It took the Scottish National Party and the now Cabinet Secretary for Health, Wellbeing and Cities Strategy to reverse the proposed closure soon after taking power in 2007. Now, when it comes to Lightburn, history repeats itself. The proposed closure of Lightburn hospital is yet another example of one section of Labour voting for the closure of a hospital or service and another section of Labour mounting a campaign against any closure. It is commonly called having your cake and eating it.
On a Scottish Labour Party website, Paul Martin MSP calls for a debate on the proposed closure of Lightburn and suggests that it is time for the SNP Government to live up to its promise on ensuring that there is a presumption against centralisation. Paul Martin states on that website:
“There’s a ... strong feeling of support in the East End of Glasgow for ensuring Lightburn Hospital has a future. I hope Nicola Sturgeon joins the community campaign to ensure the future of a hospital that has been an integral part of the community for decades.”
Nowhere on the website does the member suggest that the Labour-controlled Glasgow City Council should rescind its decision to support the closure of Lightburn. Nowhere does the member condemn the council’s involvement in the closure proposals.
On 25 November 2010, Glasgow City Council executive committee discussed the closure; it was item 7 on the agenda. The committee’s recommendations were as follows:
“the Council acknowledges the financial and clinical advantages to the Health Board of option 2, but makes this support conditional on appropriate transport links being established to allow satisfactory visitor access from the East of the city to Stobhill Hospital; and ... the Council’s support for option 2 was further conditional on transparent negotiations taking place as a matter of urgency between the Health Board and the Council on the potential impact of these proposals on demand for community-based Social Work Services.”
The report went on to list a number of significant issues: it would leave the east end of the city without any acute beds for older people, there were concerns regarding visitor access given the absence of adequate public transport, and there were concerns regarding the rebalancing of beds from rehabilitation to assessment. Even with all those concerns, which should have made the case for retention, Councillor Matheson, the leader of the council, seconded by Councillor Graham—both Scottish Labour councillors—moved that the committee agree with the recommendation.
I further note from the minutes that
“Councillor James Dornan,”— now an MSP—
“seconded by Councillor Hendry,”— both SNP councillors—
“moved ... an amendment ... to extend the consultation period.”
Only three members voted for the amendment, while 13 voted for the motion. We now hear that they have changed their minds. It is not hard to guess which party most of the 13 were from.
I agreed with James Dornan when he stated that Labour has an
“appalling track record over hospital closures” and that Labour has tried to deceive the people of the east end on the issue.
I know Lightburn hospital—my daughter started her nursing career there a number of years ago. I will refer to a recent e-mail from a constituent regarding hospital bed availability in Glasgow—this is where my comments may differ from others. His mother-in-law, Mrs Martha Harris, fell at her front door and was transported to the Western infirmary after being treated at A and E. There was no room at the inn but, thankfully, later that morning a bed was found for the Rev C B Ross’s mother-in-law. His formal complaint is about the number of hospital beds that are available in a major city. The closure of Lightburn hospital would put more pressure on the number of available beds in Glasgow and would add to pressure on other services. There should be further consultation.
I thank Paul Martin for bringing the debate to Parliament, but I must say to him: a politician has to be consistent. There are other places where the member could have pressed the case, such as his local branch—
I join other members in congratulating Paul Martin on securing the debate. I also congratulate and welcome to the public gallery the save Lightburn hospital campaign. I add my tribute to Gerry McCann and the east Glasgow support group, who have been vigorous in their efforts to protect their local services.
We should make no mistake: this is not a parochial response that is simply about retaining a local hospital; it is about recognising an extremely valuable service for older people, people with Parkinson’s and the wider community. I regret the fact that some members have failed to recognise that. The decision is for the Scottish Parliament and the Scottish Government—it is for nobody else—and it is proper that we should debate it here.
I agree with George Adam—who made an otherwise disappointing speech—that NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde is extremely difficult to deal with; I have experience of that. Paul Martin is right to say that it operates with sleight of hand. Its removing services even before the cabinet secretary has had a chance to reflect and make a decision is entirely inappropriate. The health board has also taken a heavy-handed attitude to the Parkinson’s group. Closing down opposition may be something that Governments like to do, but for the health board to do it by throwing people out of its premises is entirely inappropriate, and I hope that all members will condemn such action.
It is not enough—and I do not have sufficient time—to consider the merits of the proposal. I always do two things: I listen to the clinicians and I balance their view against the interests of the local community. There are clinicians who are against the proposed change and it is clear that the local community, with a petition bearing 14,000 signatures, a march through Carntyne and a rally, is also against the change. Therefore, we need to consider the proposal extremely carefully.
We hear that there is no evidence that the change will improve health and wellbeing. The benefit of keeping services local, which we know about, is that it aids recovery. If people have visitors, family and carers around them, that improves their experience in hospital and supports their re-ablement and rehabilitation. We all agree on that. However, for me, this is also about the east end of Glasgow being one of the most deprived areas in Scotland. The proposal would create a health desert, and that is not an appropriate action for anybody in the chamber.
Let me illustrate the reality and the consequence of the proposal with two stories that I got from members of the hospital campaign group. The first involves Anne McCaffery and is about travel. She left her house at 6 am for an appointment at 9.30 am. She arrived at 9.25 am. It had taken her 3 hours and 25 minutes to get from the east end of Glasgow to Stobhill hospital. Anne has had two strokes and has a tumour on the right-hand side of her brain. She took the bus to Baillieston Main Street, from Edinburgh Road to the back of the royal infirmary, from the royal infirmary to Springburn, and from Springburn to the old Marie Curie hospice. Then, she had to walk uphill along a back road with poor lighting for 30 minutes. It took her four bus journeys and a half-hour walk when she was not feeling well. That is not appropriate.
The second story is about older people, as the closure of Lightburn hospital will see the transfer of beds for the care of the elderly: two wards to the royal infirmary and two wards to Stobhill for reassessment—that is what was promised to the people in the east end. On the face of it, that seems fine, but that is not the reality now. They will not go to the royal and Stobhill—there are no beds there. Older people are currently being sent to the Southern general and the Western, and I even heard of somebody being sent to Wishaw. That is not keeping services local. The SNP went into the 2007 election with a policy of keeping health services local and, given my experience locally, I agreed with that policy.
I am the shadow health minister for Labour, and Labour Party decisions about health policy in Scotland are made in this chamber. It is also the responsibility of the Scottish Government and the Scottish Parliament to make a decision on Lightburn hospital—they should not duck that responsibility. I urge the minister to ensure that the cabinet secretary listens to community concerns and, more important, backs them and keeps Lightburn hospital open.
I thank Paul Martin for securing the debate. Like other members, I congratulate the campaigners on what has been a magnificent campaign.
Strangely, this is coming across as a pro and anti debate, but that is not what it is at all. I do not think that there is anybody in the chamber who does not support the campaigners and wish them all the best, and who does not see the difficulties that the closure may well cause.
As has been said, the problem is one of finance but also one of politics. I hate to bring it up, but I am the only politician in the chamber who has previously voted to keep the hospital open. When I was on Glasgow City Council the council leader moved a motion to support the health board’s move to close Lightburn hospital—with, I accept, a couple of provisos based around transport.
As the member is so committed to the future of Lightburn hospital, why has he not signed my motion, which is about retaining Lightburn hospital? That is a perfectly legitimate question.
I have not signed Mr Martin’s motion because it is completely politically expedient. The closure of the hospital was mooted in 2002. We were not in power in 2002. The Labour Party was in power when the proposal was first made. The issue went to the Labour-controlled executive in 2010 and it voted to close the hospital.
Paul Martin gives the game away when he says, “I have in my hand a piece of paper that Gordon Matheson signed.” As George Adam said, signing the charter was very much a political ploy, given that Gordon Matheson was the guy who possibly helped to ring the death knell for the hospital.
If the council had supported my amendment, we would not be where we are now. For the health board to go ahead at that stage, the council had to support it. We asked for a delay so that further consultation could take place to ensure that people could get their message across to the health board and to Labour politicians. Instead, you waited until the boundaries changed and you needed to start supporting the campaign, because the hospital is in your constituency. This is a very important issue. We support the work that the campaigners have done and we congratulate them on that work, but let us not kid ourselves: this is not a motion on the future of the hospital; this is a motion for some of you over there to save face.
We know who will take the ultimate decision: the Cabinet Secretary for Health, Wellbeing and Cities Strategy. The problem is that she would not have to take that ultimate decision if your party had taken the proper decision last November.
I have faith that the cabinet secretary will take everything into account and will come to the proper conclusion when she gets the evidence in front of her, but please stop trying to evade your responsibilities. You are trying to pretend that you are a champion of these campaigners when your colleagues have led them down this path. Your colleagues should have stood up for these campaigners 10 months ago and before. Your colleagues should not have supported a move that has brought us to where we are now.
As far as I am concerned, we will leave the matter in the hands of the cabinet secretary. I am sure that she will take everything into account and make the proper decision when the time comes.
I thank Paul Martin for securing this debate on an important issue and I welcome the campaigners from various campaign strands who are here this evening.
It is clear from Paul Martin’s speech that there is strength of feeling in the local community about the future provision of rehabilitation services for people in the east end of Glasgow and about the future of Lightburn hospital. I am aware that Paul Martin has presented the cabinet secretary with a petition, which I think has been signed by about 12,000 people who oppose the closure of Lightburn hospital.
I am not able to respond in detail to many of the points that have been raised in the debate. As members know, ministers have a formal role in cases of major service change and the cabinet secretary will in due course consider the NHS board’s proposals and come to a final view on the recommendations that the board has agreed. For that reason, she is not able to respond to the debate this evening.
I assure members that, in coming to a decision, the cabinet secretary will consider all information that is available to her and take all representations into account, including the formal position of Glasgow City Council. In that respect, the debate is important in that it enables us to hear at first hand members’ views, which will inform the cabinet secretary’s considerations.
I will not comment on correspondence that I have not seen. I have made it clear that ministers will not get involved in some of the detail that has been explored in the debate, because of the formal process in which we are involved. I can advise members that the cabinet secretary has accepted an invitation to meet the save Lightburn hospital action group and listen to the group’s views, as part of her deliberations.
I can also explain how the cabinet secretary will come to a final view. There are two strands of consideration. First, as with all ministerial decisions that relate to the NHS, our primary concern will be the quality of the service that is offered to patients. Secondly, the cabinet secretary must be satisfied with the adequacy of the public involvement, engagement and consultation process that the board has undertaken.
On quality, it has been made clear to all boards that the benchmark for planning and redesign of all healthcare services is that plans must be fully underpinned by the three clearly-articulated and widely-accepted ambitions of our quality strategy, which are based on what people have told us they want from their national health service: care that is person centred, safe and effective. Achieving those ambitions for every patient must be the starting and finishing points of all service redesign proposals. The cabinet secretary will scrutinise Glasgow’s proposals for rehabilitation services against our three ambitions and she will need to be satisfied that patients will receive the quality of care that they deserve and are entitled to.
On the requirement for NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde to inform, engage and consult local people and other stakeholders when planning and developing health services, NHS boards have a statutory duty to involve patients and the public in the planning and development of health services. Guidance that was issued in February 2010, “Informing, Engaging and Consulting People in Developing Health and Community Care Services”, sets out how boards should go about doing that. The cabinet secretary will examine the board’s processes for developing the proposals for Lightburn hospital against the requirements that are set out in the guidance.
I assure members that we have made it clear to all boards that we expect the interests of patients to be paramount in the development of services and that we expect patients’ views to have been sought from a very early stage of consideration. We expect the reasons for change to be defined clearly, and, where possible, we expect options to be explored and examined in an open way, underpinned with evidence to support the case for change.
We will examine the board’s methods of communication with patients and the community that is affected by the proposed changes. The board must be able to demonstrate that potentially affected people and staff have been fully involved at all stages in the process. The board must show that, in coming to a decision, the views of patients, carers, staff, elected representatives and other stakeholders have been listened to, understood and, where appropriate, acted on.
The cabinet secretary has received the details and intends to engage with the campaign. Following that process, she will be in a position to make a decision. It is important not to set an arbitrary date and rush to a decision on that basis. We must take our time so that we ensure that we make the right decision in the interests of patients.
To assist us in forming a view on the adequacy of NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde’s processes, we have received a report from the Scottish health council, which was established to ensure that NHS boards meet their patient-focus and public-involvement responsibilities and to support them in doing so. The role of the council in this instance has been to quality assure the process from the early stages right through to the conclusion that has been reached by NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde and then to produce a report setting out its views on whether the board has involved people in accordance with the Scottish Government guidance that I referred to earlier. That report will form part of the cabinet secretary’s considerations.
As I said, it would not be appropriate for me to enter into discussions or make comments about the specific proposals that have been submitted by NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde to the cabinet secretary. However, I am aware that transport and access issues are a concern for many. Be assured that the cabinet secretary will give careful consideration to all the issues that were raised during the consultation and to the board’s responses.
I give members and the public a commitment that the cabinet secretary will not endorse any proposal that does not fit with national policy and guidance or does not guarantee a safe, high-quality and sustainable service for the people of the east of Glasgow.
Meeting closed at 17:56.