Aberdeen doctors criticise trauma care plans
More than 50 doctors in Aberdeen have expressed concern at plans which they claim would see people with the most serious injuries transferred to Edinburgh or Glasgow.
The clinicians say there are plans to centralise trauma care in Edinburgh and Glasgow.
They argue this would downgrade Aberdeen and jeopardise patient care.
However, the Scottish government insisted all options were still on the table.
Two years ago, plans were unveiled to create four 'major trauma centres' which would provide specialist care to people with the most serious injuries, such as car crash victims.
The Scottish government had said those centres would be based in Aberdeen, Edinburgh, Dundee and Glasgow.
However, in a letter, 57 clinicians involved in trauma care in Aberdeen said that only two trauma centres were now being proposed - Edinburgh and Glasgow.
A decision on which hospitals would achieve the status of a major trauma centre is due shortly after the election.
Health Secretary Shona Robison said: "These claims are simply not true. No final decisions about the number of trauma centres have been made.
"All options remain on the table and I am today writing to the National Planning Forum to give reassurances to clinicians on this.
"Clinicians and planners from across Scotland, including Aberdeen, are currently working closely together on what Scotland's major trauma network should look like so we can provide the best model for the people of Scotland.
"I hope everyone can get behind this important work, so we can make sure we have the best possible solution."
She explained: "We estimate that an additional 40 lives a year can be saved, with many thousands benefiting, from the enhanced care that a major trauma network offers.
"However, in order to achieve this, it is extremely important we get the model of care right, in particular taking into account the geography of Scotland and the more remote and rural areas.
"I can absolutely guarantee that clinicians from all four proposed major trauma sites have been involved in this work from the outset - and will continue to be absolutely central to informing the decisions we take."
Labour MSP Lewis Macdonald said that meetings were held with staff last week in which it was clear that only sites in Glasgow and Edinburgh were being considered, despite the fact Aberdeen Royal Infirmary had more facilities on a single site than Edinburgh.
Lib Dem MSP Alison McInnes said the SNP must "come clean" on its plans as the electorate deserved to know what they were voting for ahead of the May election.
Scottish Conservative health spokesman Jackson Carlaw said: "Things have to become pretty serious for 50 respected clinicians to break their silence and alert the public of their considerable alarm over this potential outcome for the North East.
"It's not good enough to have a national trauma plan which only services the central belt and for this to be the only proposal on offer."
'Position quite clear'
An NHS Grampian spokesperson said: "We fully recognise and understand the strength of feeling about Aberdeen Royal Infirmary being a Major Trauma Centre (MTC) in a north of Scotland network.
"NHS Grampian's position has been quite clear. Over the last 18 months we have been preparing to be a MTC with the full support of the board.
"Our clinicians and managers are participating fully in the work of the National Planning Forum. We look forward to the outcome of the National Planning Forum's review."