SNP won’t step in on North East minor injuries closures despite local fears

30/05/2024

Fears have been expressed that night-time cuts to North East minor injuries services may be a “sign of more to come.”

Health and social care chiefs approved an end to 24-hour clinics at Peterhead Community Hospital, Fraserburgh Hospital and Huntly’s Jubilee Hospital, to help save around £20 million from its budget.

Grampian is one of the lowest-funded areas per head of population in Scotland, and a “combined model” of MIU care to save money was first recommended by officials last year.

Units will shut between 7pm and 7am and residents were told they can access the Out of Hours GP care service (GMED) by calling NHS 24.

But at Holyrood today, Aberdeenshire West MSP Alexander Burnett warned residents in Huntly are concerned there will be no GMED service.

And he urged health secretary Neil Gray to pause the closures for “meaningful consultation” with residents.

During health portfolio questions, Scottish Conservative Mr Burnett said: “The cabinet secretary will be aware that the three minor injury units in Huntly, Fraserburgh and Peterhead are closing overnight to save money.

“There are now concerns that the GMED service will be reduced and cut from Huntly completely — all of which is contrary to what the community was told at the start of these closures.

“NHS Grampian is underfunded by over £77 million.

“Constituents are extremely worried that this is a sign of more cuts to come.

“So will the cabinet secretary at least pause the closure to allow meaningful consultation and commit to providing the funding needed to keep these services open?”

Aberdeenshire’s integrated joint board approved the night-time closures in March, a year after a report from officials recommended the move.

A petition on the MIUs has reached 4,300 signatures of a 5,000 target.

Mr Gray said the SNP had increased funding to the NHS by 3%.

He added:

“My officials and I regularly meet with NHS boards to discuss the performance and resilience of urgent and unscheduled care services. As Mr Burnett will know, decisions on how to deliver health care services for local communities are ultimately for local health boards and integration authorities to make

Mr Burnett said later:

“I am concerned drop-in sessions have been selected instead of full public meetings and consultation in each of these towns.

“The Friends of Jubilee Hospital have called for a public meeting, as have many of my constituents, to give them opportunity to challenge this decision and show the level of opposition in the community.”

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