Highlands & Islands MSP, Jamie McGrigor and South Kintyre Councillor, Donald Kelly, continue to be concerned about NHS Highland’s plans to reduce significantly the number of inpatient beds at Campbeltown Hospital.
NHS Highland has said the current 32 beds in its Inpatients Services ward at the hospital will be cut to 21.
Jamie McGrigor has now received a reply to the letter in which he had expressed these concerns to the Chief Executive of NHS Highland.
In her reply, Elaine Mead says: ‘In light of further communication concerns raised by some members of the public and the Campbeltown community council, the CHP through its Locality management will look to arrange some further public engagement events to provide the community with the opportunity to feedback any concerns.’
When you struggle to make sense of this, it’s a bit of a laugh. What it is saying is that - because of the feedback NHS Highland has already been sent, voluntarily, by members of the public and MSPs on this issue – NHS Highland will organise some more events to to allow people – to give them feedback.
We thought this what they had already done and whose receipt Ms Mead’s letter acknowledges?
We also thought that the ‘feedback’ – a neutered version of the ‘concerns’ expressed to them – was calling for action, not more feedback ‘opportunities’.
Speaking today Councillor Donald Kelly says: ‘In recent weeks I have been approached by a number of constituents who are concerned that NHS Highland have been seeking to manipulate the numbers using beds at Campbeltown hospital by minimising bed usage and sending people home as early as possible. Others have suggested their relatives had operations in Glasgow and were ready to come back to Campbeltown hospital but were unable to do so due to lack of bed spaces.
‘I still believe that NHS Highland should organise a full public meeting so local residents can have their say. The advertisement for the drop-in event organised for today did not even refer to bed reductions. And we need detailed specifics from NHS Highland about how any money saved from reducing bed numbers will be reinvested in the community to benefit local people in Campbeltown and Kintyre.’
In the light of what we published yesterday – that surgeons are now advising post-operative patients to get out of hospital and home as soon as possible, in the interests of their own survival with hospital acquired infections on the rise again and ever more resistant to treatment – it is possible that this same strategy is somewhere in the mix in the sitution Councillor Kelly describes at Campbeltown hospital. Sending people out quickly and reducing the number of beds available sounds as much like part of the same fabric of last ditch patient protection as much as cost-cutting.
This may be a case of ‘Be careful what you wish for’.
Jamie McGrigor says: ‘The proposed bed reductions remain a very big concern in Kintyre and local residents are understandably angry that previous assurances that bed numbers would not be reduced have not been honoured.
‘Campbeltown Hospital serves a very large geographical area and a significant population of around 7000 and one that includes an increasing number of elderly residents so we must ensure we have adequate and appropriate beds at the local hospital.
‘I have also written to the Cabinet Secretary for Health Alex Neil and I look forward to receiving his response.’