MP and MSP seek clarity on community hospitals' future

LOCAL politicians David Mundell, MP, and Oliver Mundell, MSP, have today called on NHS Dumfries and Galloway to urgently commit to the long-term future of the region's cottage hospitals after rumours of plans to close a number of them have circulated.

The Dumfriesshire parliamentarians have been contacted by a number of well-informed constituents who were concerned that discussions to axe the much-valued community beds were taking place behind closed doors, without public consultation.

The suggestion has been made that the traditional cottage hospitals are no longer fit for purposes or required in light of the Covid-19 outbreak. 

However, the local MP and MSP believe it is simply too early to make that kind of assessment and are worried that this might just be the latest in a long line of excuses given for trying to shut their doors. 

They have written to NHS Dumfries and Galloway Chief Executive, Jeff Ace asking him to dispel the claims and confirm that no plans to permanently close hospitals in Moffat, Annan, Langholm, Thornhill and Lochmaben are under discussion.

Oliver Mundell has also lodged a number of Parliamentary questions at Holyrood to seek assurances from the Scottish Government that major changes to future service delivery should not be going ahead without consultation and should not be taking place during a global health pandemic.

Responding to the concerns, David Mundell said: 

“I have lost count of how many times our community hospitals have been threatened with closure in recent years and it is therefore extremely concerning to hear from constituents that plans may be afoot to do so at this time. 

"Of course the virus outbreak will have an impact on how health services are delivered in the future but this cannot be used as a justification for closing down much valued facilities. 

"The large rural nature of our region and an aging population means that it is not as simple as just relying on the new Dumfries and Galloway Royal Infirmary (DGRI).”

Oliver Mundell said: 

“Most people will be worried to hear that such a major redesign of local health services could be underway without any advanced consultation taking place. 

"These hospitals and their staff do an exceptional job for local communities and allow people to receive treatment and care closer to home. 

"Getting NHS services back to some kind of normality should be the first priority at this time and big decisions like this should be kicked into the long grass until there is time to properly engage with local residents.”