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Cottage hospitals promise reminder

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By Fiona Reid
Dumfries and West
Cottage hospitals promise reminder

PROMISES made over the future of cottage hospitals across the region have been highlighted again by a Galloway and West Dumfries MSP.

Last year, Finlay Carson asked Humza Yousaf, then the Scottish Health Secretary, if he would look at the issue of reopening the hospitals at Castle Douglas, Kirkcudbright and Newton Stewart.

Speaking at the time, Mr Yousaf gave a promise that it was something he was prepared to consider, having admitted to recognising the importance of these facilities.

Now Mr Carson is pressing him to stand by that earlier commitment.

He said: “I pointed out that cottage hospitals remain vital in tackling the endemic problem of delayed discharge that has a knock-on impact throughout the whole healthcare system, particularly in A&E departments.

“Patients rightly expect health facilities such as step-down care and palliative care to be available as close to home as possible and not have to travel great distances.

“Regrettably, despite the current delayed discharge crisis, NHS Dumfries and Galloway and the Integrated Joint Board do not intend to carry out a review until next spring – going against the strong wishes of local constituents who have insisted the hospitals be reopened during a consultation process.”

The Scottish Conservative and Unionist MSP insists that the cottage hospitals must remain at the heart of future health services.

He explained: “Local constituents made it abundantly clear that it was their wish for them to be brought back into operation.

“It seems totally wrong that if you ask for the communities’ thoughts then refuse to accept them, why give them false hopes.

“Hopefully the First Minister will recognise this and live up to his promise.”

Meanwhile the Minister for Public Health and Women’s Health has welcomed the decision taken by NHS Dumfries and Galloway to engage with the public over maternity services in Wigtownshire.

In a letter to the local constituency MSP, Jenni Minto said: “We remain clear in our expectations that all women, at all times, receive high-quality, person-centred maternity care, tailored to their needs, with quality and safety for mothers and babies central to decision-making.

“I welcome NHS Dumfries and Galloway’s effort in engaging with the public to inform the development of the local maternity services and for formally consulting the community before the IJB makes its final decision.”

But Mr Carson dismissed the move, insisting that the independent co-chairs had recommended the option to reintroduce pre-planned low-risk births at Galloway Community Hospital.

He said: “The result of an independent review of maternity services in Wigtownshire was quite clear what the preferred option was.

“Once again this flies in the face of strong public opinion and the expert advice of independent medical professionals.

“This latest consultation process will run to January next year with a final decision anticipated in March. It is totally senseless and simply a time-wasting tactic.”

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