Hospital reprieve, but ‘soul of region’ still at stake

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“The soul of our region is at stake” claims a NHS Dumfries and Galloway board member, despite Langholm’s cottage hospital being saved from closure.

The health board has dropped a proposal to shut five community hospitals – including the 12-bed Thomas Hope in Langholm – after hearing strong opposition to its clinical services strategy plan.

An amended scheme has now been drawn up, working in close partnership with Dumfries and Galloway Council.

But board member Alis Ballance said: “The partnership is a cover for cuts to services, and will be the shroud over our cottage hospitals and our elderly folks’ day centres if we do not take careful, thoughtful action. The soul of our region is at stake.”

Mrs Ballance claims the partnership board would withdraw funding for elderly day centres, forcing them to close.

She added: “The most serious flaw in the response to the consultation is that there will be no external, independent assessment at all. I am now planning to join with members of our communities to commission an independent study.” John Burns, chief executive of NHS Dumfries and Galloway, said: “Whilst remaining firmly committed to the vision and broad strategic aims of the clinical services strategy, the NHS board has listened to the key issues raised with us during the engagement and consultation process.”

Mr Burns added that patients wanted community services close to home to meet their “social, psychological, physical and spiritual needs”.

Dumfriesshire MP David Mundell added: “Though this is positive news, we need to remain vigilant in ensuring that the hospitals continue to get the necessary resources to keep them fully equipped and staffed.”