Scotland politics

Consultants' warning after Monklands Hospital promises 'broken'

Monklands Hospital Image copyright Google

Five orthopaedic consultants have warned that patients will suffer as a result of the decision to move certain services away from a hospital the Scottish government promised to save.

Campaigners have accused ministers of breaking promises not to cut services at Monklands Hospital in Airdrie.

But the Scottish government said they were "absolutely committed" to A&E services remaining at Monklands.

NHS Lanarkshire said patient care would be enhanced by the changes.

In a letter seen by the BBC, five consultants and two specialists warned that they could not support last week's decision by the health board to merge trauma and orthopaedic services.

The letter states: "Moving trauma patients about the country on stretchers is not the way to address the staffing problem and therefore we cannot support it… We are happy to give you all other support to enhance the workforce numbers and help solve the problem but the patients should not suffer as a result."

'Village hospital'

Peter Owens' father was treated at the hospital. He has campaigned since 2007 to keep it open.

"My father would have died much earlier than he did and in more pain if the changes they are proposing had been in place back then," he said.

"He could not have survived the journey to another hospital. Ministers promised the hospital and the A&E department would not be downgraded but moving all these services away means it is effectively being downgraded to a village hospital.

"If this goes ahead they have gone back on their promises."

A Scottish government spokeswoman said: "It was this government that saved the A&E at Monklands Hospital, and we are absolutely committed to A&E remaining at Monklands.

"The health board has been clear that this interim model is to build service resilience and not about removing services.

"They are confident it will enable them to develop a complementary network of services of excellence across all hospital sites with core A&E departments operating on all three.

"The Health Secretary has asked the health board to draw up a detailed engagement plan with staff and local residents before any long-term changes can be made, in discussion with the Scottish Health Council."

'Aim of changes'

Lanarkshire Health Board said the aim of the changes was to enhance patient care.

In relation to allegations of moving patients about the country on stretchers, the chief executive Calum Campbell said: "This is a misrepresentation of what we are proposing. The challenge we face is not just a staffing challenge.

"Following the changes, approximately 98% of patients attending Monklands Accident and Emergency Department will continue to be seen there and that will include 95% of the trauma patients who currently go there.

"NHS Lanarkshire is clear that its primary objective is patient safety."

In 2007 the then Health Secretary Nicola Sturgeon reversed the previous Labour government's decision to close the A&E department at Monklands.

Her successor Alex Neil, who is also the constituency MSP for the area covering the hospital, campaigned in 2007 to keep the A&E department open.

Later in 2014, he faced calls for his resignation in the Scottish Parliament for his involvement in suggesting mental health facilities should be retained at the hospital around the same time he was appointed health secretary.

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