Glasgow & West Scotland

Beatson cancer doctors warn of 'risk to patients'

The Beatson Image copyright NHS Scotland

More than 50 professors and consultants at Scotland's largest cancer hospital have warned patients could be put at risk by a change of services.

A major shake-up of care in the city is taking place as part of a move to the new South Glasgow University Hospital.

Doctors at the Beatson cancer centre claim the changes will leave inadequate staffing in the event of emergencies.

They have written to Health Secretary Shona Robison to say the situation is "desperate" and called for action.

The doctors claim the reconfiguration of hospital services in the city will see the removal of acute medical support services from the site by the end of next week.

The signatories of a letter have called for urgent action amid fears that junior doctors will be left in charge out of hours and that there would be inadequate staffing for resuscitating patients at such times.

Image copyright NHS GGC
Image caption The change in services is part of a move to the new £842m South Glasgow University Hospital

NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde said it would "never put the safety of patients at risk".

The health secretary said the views of clinicians, including those at the Beatson, "need to be fully addressed".

The letter from senior medical staff, which has also been sent to the General Medical Council, said they "cannot continue to admit patients" unless changes due to take place next week are stopped.

The new super hospital on the south side of Glasgow, which cost £842m to build, replaces four ageing hospitals across the city.

The consultants have claimed that, three miles away in the Beatson, only junior doctors will be left on site out of hours.

NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde said it recognised the consultants' concerns.

The health board said temporary arrangements were in place and long-term plans were still being finalised.

It said: "Plans are also in place to include critical care training for oncology nursing staff.

"In the interim period we will also provide resident overnight anaesthetic cover to the unit and will identify a named anaesthetic contact for daytime patient management issues."

'Extremely safe'

Responding to the letter, Health Secretary Ms Robison said: "It is vital that the health board addresses the issues raised so that the move can go ahead with the support of the clinicians.

"I have spoken to the chairman of NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde and had assurance this will happen."

Scotland's chief medical officer, Catherine Calderwood, told BBC Radio's Good morning Scotland programme she had received assurances from the medical director of the NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde board about patient safety.

She said: "Always when there are changes there are difficulties on both sides, for the health board and the clinicians.

"The Beatson provides world-class cancer care to patients from all over the west of Scotland.

"The service at the moment is extremely safe and the proposals that I have heard about offer very safe care, safe transfer of patients that become more unwell, [and] an enhancement of the seniority of doctors, who will be present 24 hours a day on site."

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