NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde’s Chairman, Andrew Robertson, today signalled his delight at decisions taken by the Scottish Government about the future of the Vale of Leven Hospital in Alexandria.
Proposals had been submitted to Cabinet Secretary for Health and Wellbeing Ms Nicola Sturgeon, by the Health Board in February following a major public consultation undertaken between October last year and January 2009.
Mr Robertson said: “This is excellent news for the patients and communities served by the Vale of Leven Hospital.
“When we took responsibility for running the Vale in 2006, we made a commitment to models of service that would be safe and sustainable. That we are now in a position to be able to assure a busy, vital future for the hospital is due to the support of the Cabinet Secretary in assessing our proposals and also to the GPs, clinical staff, managers and community representatives who pulled together to offer viable solutions.
“We will now move forward with the detailed implementation of our proposals. They will mean that we can put in place services that will bring 18,350 additional patient attendances to the Vale, in turn ensuring that fewer local people will need to travel elsewhere for hospital care.
We will also move forward with innovative arrangements to sustain over 70% of unscheduled medical admissions and fulfil an ongoing commitment to provide swift assessment and treatment for people who experience sudden illness.”
Mr Robertson also commented on the Cabinet Secretary’s determination that a decision on whether the Vale’s Christie Ward should close would follow a review of Mental Health inpatient admissions there. “The Board had agreed that predicted falls in inpatient admissions should be confirmed before closure of the Christie Ward would be enacted.
Therefore the Cabinet Secretary’s decision reinforces our commitment to do this.
“New admission figures do appear to show that the new range of local, community-based Mental Health Services we introduced is having an effect. Many patients were admitted to the Christie Ward in the past simply because these local services were not in place and there was no other alternative. We anticipate that this trend will continue as foreseen."
Ms Sturgeon has given the green light to the ‘Vision for the Vale’, which ensures that vital health services stay at the Vale of Leven Hospital.
Approval means that key local services which would have been lost under previous proposals will now be safeguarded and improved.
While experts have concluded that anaesthetics cover is not sustainable at the hospital, a new consultant-led unscheduled care model will ensure that at least 70 per cent of unscheduled care services will be retained whereas previous plans would have removed these completely. This will result in the creation of eight additional consultant posts covering the Vale.
Plans for the future of the hospital will also protect the community maternity service based at the Vale, and cement the role of the hospital’s Fruin Ward. This will continue to provide acute beds for elderly people with mental health problems, alongside the on-site provision of continuing care beds.
As well as securing key local services, today’s announcement will see the return of nearly 20,000 routine attendances per year in areas such as urology, ophthalmology and renal dialysis.
This will increase planned care services at the hospital by 20 per cent.
The board has proposed transferring adult inpatient mental health services to Gartnavel Hospital in Glasgow. Ms Sturgeon has asked that demand for this service – currently provided at the Vale’s Christie Ward – be carefully monitored over the coming months, and that a further report is made to her before any final decision is made.
Ms Sturgeon said: “My decision puts an end to a decade of damaging uncertainty, and underlines this Government’s clear commitment to ensuring that health services are delivered as locally as possible.
“Local people can be assured that the Vale has a viable future, and that they will be fully involved in the Board’s plans to secure additional developments on the site, such as a new palliative care service and the new Alexandria Health Centre.
“That is why I have endorsed the Scottish Health Council’s recommendations that the Board fully promotes the new services to ensure local communities are aware of what is provided at the Vale. I have also asked that a monitoring group is set up – with local stakeholders represented – to oversee the development and delivery of the plans.
“In respect of the Christie Ward, I recognise both the concern about maintaining this valued local service and the board’s duty to ensure that a high quality, safe and sustainable service is provided.
“I have asked the board to carefully monitor this service and report back to me before a final decision is made. I expect the monitoring group to play a full part in this process. “
NOTES FOR NEWS EDITORS
1. The new consultant-led model, in which GP Principals and GP Specialist Trainees will be key partners, will ensure that 70 per cent of unscheduled care services are retained at the Vale and will mean the creation of eight additional consultant posts covering the hospital.
2. The Government will work with NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde to ensure that the membership of the monitoring group reflects the interests of local stakeholders as far as possible. The Government will provide the NHS Board with a remit and set of criteria for the monitoring group.
3. NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde will now develop a capital investment plan for the Vale. As part of this capital plan an overall vision for the physical layout of the site will be developed and this will incorporate plans for the new Alexandria Medical Centre. The monitoring group will be kept appraised of the development of the capital investment plan.
4. The proposals as put forward by the NHS Board 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 services
• 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
5. In addition to these proposals, the Board in February had also proposed 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.
6. Some of the most significant changes will affect planned services such as routine day surgery and outpatient appointments. The 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.
7. The proposals approved 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.
8. 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.