12 July 2006

Stevenson Responds To NHS Grampian Formal Consultation

12 July 2006

For Immediate Use

Banff and Buchan MSP Stewart Stevenson has submitted his response to the NHS Grampian formal consultation on older people services, diagnostic and treatment services and maternity services.

Commenting on the three issues, Mr Stevenson said:

In terms of older people services

                “With the expected change to the age make-up of the population, it is inevitable that the way in which health services are delivered needs to be examined closely with changes made.  I am all in favour of community based support as opposed to long stay hospital.  Of course with the closure of any hospital it is disappointing news however, I welcome whole heartedly the proposal to build a new hospital and health centre in Banff.”

In terms of diagnostic and treatment services

                “As an MSP, when hearing from constituents one of the things that crops up constantly is the sheer hassle and cost of having to travel to Aberdeen to receive medical treatment.  The concern of these constituents is that they believe that minor surgery and other services should be provided by their local hospitals – a viewpoint that I am in agreement with.  In my eyes, community hospitals are a great idea and I am all for an increase to the range of services that can be made available.”

In terms of maternity services

                “Maternity services are vital to any community and it is fundamental that parents know that they have easy and quick access to support whenever they need it most. I therefore welcome the recommendations to put in place more antenatal and postnatal care across Aberdeenshire.  As we know, the number of home births is rising and it is therefore essential that changes are made to the way that maternity services are delivered. An increase to the public health programme for mothers is also another welcomed recommendation.

                “The broader question of maternity units across the North East raises bigger issues. The unit on Skye is successful at maintaining professional competence and meeting local needs despite numbers much lower than any of Banff, Fraserburgh or Peterhead. So clearly small units can be medically safe and successful.

                “The Fraserburgh situation is particularly concerning. I simply do not accept that medical provision in this large community is in line with the principles laid down in the Kerr report and would be astonished if the Health Minister were not to agree with me in that regard.  The removal of on-site medical cover over-night has inflamed local opinion, and created risk.  I strongly suggest that a trial placement of an out of hours GP be undertaken. I expect that to prove the value of a full time appointment thereafter.

                “The bottom line is that removal of further services is unacceptable and potentially unsafe and I shall be watching future developments with considerable interest and stand by to engage with the Minister as and when necessary.”

Stewart Stevenson
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