Concern about the future of Borders community hospitals refuses to go away no matter how often NHS Borders denies any plans to close them.
The issue entered the public domain in November last year when Dr Sheena MacDonald, NHS Borders medical director, talking to a BBC reporter about their clinical review, was reported to have said: “If we can reduce our spending on buildings and less overheads for heating and lighting that will allow us to use the same amount of resource for a much larger group of people by investing in more staff”.
BBC Scotland’s web site published a story saying “NHS Borders will be examining the future of four community hospitals as it looks to redesign health services.”
At last week’s Berwickshire Area Forum meeting Dr MacDonald clarified: ““The statement was - we have to start looking at everything we do and obviously we have to look at our buildings and use them more effectively.”
Dr MacDonald made it clear they cannot carry on delivering services as they do at present.
Population forecasts predict a steady rise in the age profile of the Borders and Dr MacDonald said: “We would not be able to continue doing things as we have and we would have to build a new hospital ward every year for seven years.”
“At no time did we say we were closing community hospitals; at no time did we have a hidden agenda,” said Edwina Cameron, interim director of health and social care workforce and planning, speaking at last week’s meeting in Duns.
“We don’t intend to close hospitals but what we need to do is look at community services and ensure we are delivering the right services in the right places with the right resources.