Chair stresses community hospitals safe after 4,000 name petition

Catriona Bhatia
Catriona Bhatia

The NHS Borders board has stressed once again that community hospital closures are not being discussed as pert of an upcoming service review.

John Raine, chair, told the board at its recent public meeting in Melrose: “I have received a petition, sent electronically, containing 4,136 signatures

“I did say that we have never talked about closing community hospitals.”

He went on: “Life expectancy in the Borders is the highest in Scotland. And that’s great.

“But it also means that there are going to be challenges ahead, with budgetary concerns.

Non-executive director, councillor Catriona Bhatia, added that the panic across media outlets that contributed to the setting up of the petition had not been helped by “certain politicians, who had engaged in a ‘race to the bottom’.”

Throughout the discussion of the clinical review, board members were keen to point out that this was an opportunity to effect change without the ‘usual’ stimulus of a recent disaster.

It was also stressed that the current model of care provision had been in place since 1948, and that it may require updating, for instance in the use of nursing staff rather than relying on locum doctors.

And staffing concerns were raised. Jane Davidson, interim chief executive, said: “There is a dearth of medical staff coming through the system, which means that we are looking for different ways of working and different ways of using , for instance, nursing staff.”

Meanwhile Susan Manion, chief officer, health and social care integration, added: “We have to ensure that there is enough flexibility in the workforce to make sure that we are supporting rehabilitation. There are a number of elements to this.”