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Children’s ward at Paisley’s Royal Alexandra Hospital set to close

Royal Alexandra Hospital (PA)
Royal Alexandra Hospital (PA)

HEALTH Secretary Shona Robison has confirmed that the children’s ward at Paisley’s Royal Alexandra Hospital is to close.

Proposals by NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde (NHSGGC) to move inpatient and day care paediatrics from the hospital’s Ward 15 to the Royal Hospital for Children in Glasgow were approved today.

But the move, put forward by NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde, has been branded by Scottish Labour as a “stab in the back” for families who campaigned against it.

West of Scotland Labour MSP Neil Bibby said: “This is a disgraceful political decision. The families and staff of the Children’s Ward and everyone who uses the RAH have been stabbed in the back by the SNP Government.

“Thousands of local people have said loudly and clearly that they want the children’s ward to be protected.

“The SNP Government had a choice – to listen to local families or to ignore them and they have chosen to completely ignore the views and wishes of local families.”

NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde has welcomed the move, pointing to high-spec technology at RHCG.

The hospital has a dedicated Family Support and Information Service offering support for those accessing the site.

It provides funding to cover transport, fuel, travel expenses, or other forms of assistance identified.

Outpatient services and emergency care for those who self-refer will remain at RAH.

Dr Jennifer Armstrong, medical director, said: “The Royal Hospital for Children is one of the finest paediatric teaching hospitals in the UK and this decision will ensure that children from the Clyde area who require specialist hospital care will be able to receive their care in these state-of-the-art facilities.”

Delivering the decision, Ms Robison said: “This has been a difficult decision but in doing so, I recognise that only inpatient and day case paediatrics will be transferred.

“The majority of patient cases will continue to be seen and treated locally; with the A&E Departments at Inverclyde Royal Hospital and at the RAH continuing to receive paediatric patients who self-present alongside the continuation of outpatient clinics, as well as specialist community paediatric services.”

“The Board has made a compelling and viable case for these proposals which have attracted overwhelming clinical support. The proposals are consistent with national policy, modern clinical standards and best practice, including the European Association for Children in Hospital (EACH) Charter and the national clinical standards set by the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health.”

Health Secretary Shona Robison (Andrew Cowan/Scottish Parliament)
Health Secretary Shona Robison (Andrew Cowan/Scottish Parliament)

Ms Robison acknowledged that people in the Paisley area would be disappointed by the decision but insisted that support will be provided.

Her approval of the proposals was conditional on the health board maintaining and improving community based services and working with families before the changes are made.

She added: “I also recognise the local fears expressed during the public engagement and consultation activity that the approval of these proposals could lead to the ‘downgrading’ of the RAH. This is categorically not the case.

“The Board of NHSGGC has assured me that it remains absolutely committed to maintaining and developing the services provided at the RAH as the main acute resource for the Clyde area. Indeed, in terms of the ward space vacated by this decision at the RAH, the Board will use the ward to optimally improve patient care on the site.”

Proposals to close Lightburn Hospital in Carntyne were not approved by Ms Robison.

Glasgow Labour MSP Pauline McNeill tweeted: “Very sad decision for the people of Paisley that the paediatrics ward at RAH is closing- pleased to hear hospital will remain open. Well done to all the campaigners”

And Labour’s Anas Sarwar shared a video of Nicola Sturgeon saying there were no plans to close the ward during the election campaign.

He said she had ‘lied’ and criticised local SNP MP Mhairi Black and MSP George Adam for their silence on the matter.

Scottish Liberal Democrat health spokesperson Alex Cole-Hamilton MSP warned the decision to close the ward will be “a bitter blow to parents and campaigners” who have battled to keep facilities open.

Scottish Conservative shadow health secretary Miles Briggs added: “All across Scotland children’s services are being failed by the SNP.”

Read the full decision here.