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South Scotland MSP Colin Smyth has sought assurances from NHS Dumfries and Galloway that a reduction in beds of a third at Newton Stewart hospital is a only short term measure, after reports that nurse shortages and illness has led to a cut in the number of beds at the hospital from 22 to 14.

The local MSP has expressed concern at lack of information over the cut from NHS Dumfries and Galloway and accused them of failing to learn from previous short term service reductions at the Galloway Hospital in Stranraer where they were widely criticised for failing to inform the public of staff reductions.  

Colin Smyth has also written to Shona Robison, the Scottish Government’s Cabinet Secretary for Health to highlight once again how fragile health services are in Wigtownshire due to the NHS staff workforce crisis.

Colin Smyth said, “People understand that the NHS faces real staffing challenges as a result of a complete lack of proper workforce planning over many years by the Scottish Government and it is sometimes necessary to temporarily reduce services to maintain safety. But it is disappointing that once again there was a complete lack of public information released by the local NHS explaining the reasons for this decision at the time it was implemented. Local people have a right to know why this action was necessary and what the impact will be on services at Newton Stewart hospital. They also want to receive a clear assurance that it is only a temporary move and be told what is being done to try to cover staff shortages to get the service back up to full capacity as soon as possible and I have written to the local NHS to get those assurances. Understandably, local people are now concerned about the long term future of the hospital. It does seem that the local NHS hasn’t learned from previous temporary service reductions at the Galloway hospital when they were rightly criticised for a lack of information to the public. This decision also exposes yet again just how fragile services are due to the NHS staffing crisis , in particular in the west of the region. I have written to the Health Secretary Shona Robison highlighting the need for the Government to get a grip when it comes to increasing training and staff numbers overall”.


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South Scotland MSP Colin Smyth has expressed concerns over delays in a Scottish Government review into rejected referrals to child mental health services after revealing that there has been a further 165 children in Dumfries and Galloway who have had their referrals for support rejected SINCE the Government announced a review.

In March 2017, after months of pressure, the Scottish Government announced an audit on rejected referrals to Children and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS). However, the Report has still to be published and since then 5,000 children across Scotland have had their referral to CAMHS rejected by the health service since last March. A rejected referral is where a referral to CAMHS is assessed as inappropriate.

Colin Smyth MSP said, “I have concerns over the high number of rejected cases in Dumfries and Galloway. In some cases, there may be completely justifiable reasons as to why cases were rejected, that is the nature of ensuring every referral receives the necessary treatment. The problem is the Scottish Government just don’t know the reasons which is why they agreed to hold a review. However, it is a tragedy that since that review was announced over a year ago a further 165 children in the region have had their referrals rejected”.   

“Last week was Mental Health Awareness Week and these statistics highlight that change must occur to ensure that every child receives the support and treatment the need. The Government has said the Audit Report will be published next month, 14 months after the audit started. It is important that this Report is taken seriously by both the Government and local Health Boards to ensure that we get it right on mental health.”


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