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31 August 2001

Alarm at Threat to Rural Hospitals in Grampian

"Grampian University Health Trust's Financial Problems Must Not Be Allowed To Reduce Clinic Provision in Community Hospitals" says MSP Stevenson

Following a meeting with Grampian Health today [Friday] it emerged that the current review of Health Board spending presents a very real threat of cut-backs in rural areas. It appears that the number of consultants' clinics in community hospitals throughout Grampian will be reduced. Speaking after the meeting, Banff & Buchan MSP Stewart Stevenson said,

"I went to this meeting with a number of questions about Chalmers Hospital services in Banff. In the event the answers indicated that the Health Board 'thought it likely' that clinics in community hospitals would have to be reduced.

"These clinics are a very important part of the delivery of acute services through local hospitals throughout Grampian. By the Health Board's own admission they enable a superior service to be provided to our rural communities.

"This threat arises because of overspending within the University Trust in Aberdeen and from lack of funding from the New Labour/Lib coalition in Edinburgh. However the impact may be most acutely felt within rural communities. If the current clinics enable delivery of a superior service then withdrawal will, by definition, provide a poorer quality of healthcare to people outside the city."


Turning to funding of health-care in Grampian Health's area generally, Stevenson commented,

"New Labour's recently announced funding for our area has resulted in 10% of Scotland's population receiving only 9% of the funding. If, as appears likely, rural areas are hit once again it is further proof that Labour neither understand or care about rural communities."

17 August 2001

Unsafe Aberdeenshire Roads Stymie Walk-In Protest

"This highlights potential risks to casualties who could be forced to travel 50 miles for Accident & Emergency treatment" says Local MSP Stevenson

Following the withholding of permission today [Friday] for a small nunber of protestors to walk from Banff to Aberdeen over four days, Banff and Buchan MSP Stewart Stevenson has spoken out:

"While we must respect police advice that the planned walk by Chalmers Hospital Action Group members from Banff to Aberdeen would be dangerous, it raises important issues.

"A road that is dangerous for a small group of adults to walk in broad daylight must represent a real risk to casualties who might have to travel on a dark winter's night for Accident and Emergency treatment. Withdrawal of facilities at Banff's Chalmers Hospital could turn that risk into tragedy.

"Given that the stated intention of the walkers was to conform in every respect with the Highway Code, the reported suggestion by Aberdeenshire Council that they would charge walkers for the provision of an escort is monstrous.

"I'm sure that this set-back will not deter Chalmers Hospital campaigners. Rather it will stiffen their resolve in the fight to keep the long promised re-build at the top of Grampian Health's priorities."


Linking this refusal to the long-running campaign for the restoration of free school buses for children throughout Aberdeenshire, Stevenson continued;

"Paradoxically the Liberals on Aberdeenshire Council have spent the better part of a year assuring worried parents that their roads are safe for children to walk to school even on dark winter mornings.

"It will be a challenge for the Council's political leaders to explain how their roads are safe for our youngsters but too dangerous for a small group of highly disclipined adult walkers campaigning for a vital community facility."
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