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”.