The Board of NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde today approved a package of proposals which will guarantee the Vale of Leven Hospital a safe and secure future.
The Board’s proposals, which will now be submitted for decision to Nicola Sturgeon, Cabinet Secretary for Health and Wellbeing, ends ten years of uncertainty which has been hanging over the Dumbartonshire hospital.
Of the 27 Board members in attendance, 26 members unanimously agreed with the proposals. There was however one exception. West Dumbartosnhire Council Leader, Iain Robertson, said:” I am delighted with the vast majority of proposals for the vision of the Vale of Leven Hospital. The Vale has been under a shadow for a very long time and this vision gives us, for the first time, a model for the future.”
Mr Robertson did not however agree with the recommendation to close the Vale’s acute adult mental health service provided by the hospital’s Christie ward and transfer this service to the brand new state-of-the-art Gartnavel Royal Hospital and his dissent to this aspect of the vision was noted.
The proposals, already subject to full public consultation, will see more than 18,000 extra patient attendances at the hospital every year and ensures the hospital’s key role in delivering NHS care to local people.
The proposals suggest a range of service changes and developments which build on the existing strengths of the hospital. These include:
• New arrangements to sustain at least 70% of the 24 hour unplanned medical care currently delivered at the Vale
• Continuation and expansion of the range of planned outpatient, daycase and diagnostic services which will mean some 18,350 additional planned patient attendances every year including a variety of new servcies
• Sustaining the Minor Injuries Unit which treats 9,000 patients each year
• Ongoing provision of Rehabilitation inpatient services
• Inpatient mental health services for older people to be sustained on the site
• A new, purpose-built Medical Centre
In addition to these proposals, the Board also approved the proposal to close the acute adult mental health service provided by the hospital’s Christie ward and transfer this service to the brand new state-of-the-art Gartnavel Royal Hospital in 12-18 months time.
It was however agreed that the exact timing of transfer of this service would finalised by ongoing monitoring of the impact of the new community mental health services. New community mental health service have been put in place across the area to cater for the vast majority of patients who have until now been admitted as inpatients because of lack of community mental health provision.
Some of the most significant changes will affect planned services such as routine day surgery and outpatient appointments. The Health Board’s proposals would see the number of episodes increase by 20% - up by 18,350 – as a result of new and expanded services. This is good news for local patients and their families who will no longer have to travel to Paisley or Glasgow for their appointments.
The proposals approved today also include a new £3.6 million dental complex to enhance general and specialist dental services, development of a Rheumatology Service, more local Ear, Nose and Throat (ENT) and orthopaedic surgery, more endoscopy (internal investigation with a small camera) and ophthalmology (eye) procedures and follow-up appointments, as well as bringing urological operations to the Vale.
There will also be an expansion of specialist services including kidney dialysis, cancer care and neurology (treatment of diseases and problems with the nervous system) services, which will double current capacity.
The proposed changes to the Vale’s Medical Assessment Unit, which cares for patients who have taken ill and need swift assessment and treatment (but not A & E or intensive care), follow from a series of reviews, the most recent being carried out this summer which confirm that it is no longer possible to provide on-call anaesthetic cover for unscheduled medical admissions to the Vale.
The Board agreed to propose alternative arrangements for the provision of unscheduled medical care, which will ensure that 70% of current patient care can be maintained without the need for anaesthetic cover. This will be achieved by Consultant Physicians from the Royal Alexandra Hospital in Paisley working in partnership with local GPs.
The risk of any patients taking a turn for the worse and so having to be transferred from the Vale to another hospital will be minimised by the use of detailed protocols as part of the assessment and admission process to the Medical Assessment Unit.*
The Health Board are working with the Scottish Ambulance Service to agree the extra funding needed to ensure an increased level of paramedic services including vehicles to enable the rapid transfer of patients around the clock for emergency cases.
In terms of wider transport and access issues the fact that 18,350 attendances currently provided either in Paisley or Glasgow are now planned at the Vale in future means a major reduction in the amount of travel by patients, visitors or carers. However we recognise that while unscheduled patients who will not now be treated at the Vale will be transported by ambulance there will still be a requirement for travel for their visitors and carers. We will continue to subsidise the current Vale to RAH shuttle bus which has now been extended to collect and drop off in Helensburgh. We are also working with our local authority and transport partners to look at other options to make life easier for those who have to travel.
The Board also reiterated its commitment to promoting the Vale’s Community Maternity Unit.
Commenting on the proposals, NHSGGC’s Chairman, Andrew Robertson, said: “I am delighted that this vision for the future of the Vale of Leven Hospital has been approved by the Board today. Today’s decision means that it will continue to be a vibrant and busy NHS site and that it will continue to play a central role in the provision of NHS care to local communities. We firmly believe that the model of services we plan on the site is safe and will deliver the high quality of care that local residents both deserve and expect.
“Although this model means that more patients in the most at risk categories will have to go direct to the Royal Alexandra Hospital, we plan to significantly increase the overall level of activity on the Vale site and make sure that fewer patients have to go Paisley or Glasgow for their care. This change will affect a material number of people, some of whom travel regularly because of their long-term chronic illness. “
Notes to Editors
*For more than four years, ambulance crews and GPs have streamed patients requiring emergency care to the A & E at the RAH without incident. Under the proposals agreed, the criteria in protocols for deciding if patients should bypass the Vale will be extended to include other types of patients whose conditions may mean they could potentially deteriorate and require anaesthetic or specialist intervention. This would include patients with gastro-intestinal bleeding, for example.
To put this in context, the changes would mean between 1,008 and 1,890 additional patients bypassing the Vale each year to add to the 5,000 who already do so to obtain emergency or specialist care. Currently, the locum anaesthetists providing cover for the Vale's medical Assessment Unit deal on average with only one patient a week during normal working hours and one 'out of hours'.
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