100 community beds at risk

Jime Hume
Jime Hume

Possible closure of community hospitals across the Borders was raised in the Scottish Parliament prompting NHS Borders to respond saying “at no stage, has the board stated an intention to close community hospitals”.

In a health service debate in the Scottish Parliament Lib Dem South of Scotland MSP Jim Hume urged the Health Minister to refuse any future decision by the health board to close community hospitals in Hawick, Duns, Peebles and Kelso, and highlighted the strength of public feeling against the proposals.

“At a time when legislation is aimed at better integration of health and social care with people being treated in their own communities, it seems a backward step for the health board to consider removing 100 community beds,” said Mr Hume.

“It’s deeply concerning that NHS Borders is considering the future of its community hospital stock in the Borders. Patients and relatives know the immense care that’s provided by the dedicated staff in our community hospitals especially for those patients needing end of life care, and they will rightly be wondering why there is a move to close them.

“Rural areas in particular benefit from community hospitals and we know that they can provide a vital transition for vulnerable patients preparing to return home.

“Ultimately any decision by the health board to close community hospitals has to be signed off by Scottish Ministers and I’m urging the Health Secretary and her Ministerial colleagues to resist these closures.”

This prooduced a response from NHS Borders, a spokesperson saying: “In a media statement issued on December 9, 2014, the board’s intention to begin a review of all clinical services, in order to ensure the continuation of safe, effective and high quality health services to the people of the Borders, was announced.

A report has been commissioned for the February 2015 meeting of the board to establish how best the review should be taken forward, likely with a review of all NHS Borders in-patient services.

“This is not a focus on community hospitals.

“This is a focus for how we deliver better services to people in the region.

“The report will include full proposals for effective engagement with the public, staff, and other stakeholders, along with timescales for the programme.”