South Scotland MSP Colin Smyth has welcomed the news that progress is being made in discussion aimed at retain the mortuary at the Thomas Hope Hospital in Langholm, following fears it would permanently close.

Talks are taking place between NHS Dumfries and Galloway and local undertakers over allowing continued use of the mortuary.

Colin Smyth said, “I welcome the fact that a solution appears to have been found that will hopefully allow the continued access to the mortuary at Thomas Hope Hospital as reports of its closure were really unsettling for the community. I don’t think what is a very sensitive subject has been handled well but thankfully a way forward looks likely.

“Although NHS Dumfries and Galloway have been quick to point to national government direction to review arrangements when it comes to access and security, that sounded an excuse to look at closure, and comes at a time that there is already deep concern over what other services could be removed from Thomas Hope Hospital. I think the local NHS need to be more open with the community about their long-term vision is for our community hospitals because that is not clear at present and this incident will simply have added to the concerns.

“Everyone knows the local NHS is facing a £20m deficit and that will lead to yet more cuts unless the Government starts to properly fund our NHS. Sadly it is often our local community services that face cuts and centralisation, despite the fact that our community hospitals should be playing a bigger role in taking the pressure of the Infirmary in Dumfries, especially when it comes to rehabilitation. Of course they are in need of major investment, but at a time we have a real crisis with delayed discharge, our community hospitals across the region could be supporting more people who are facing delayed discharge from the infirmary by maximising their use and the services provided in the community.”

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