South Scotland MSP Colin Smyth has called on NHS Dumfries and Galloway to publish a clear plan for the future of the Galloway Community Hospital in Stranraer.


The call was made by the MSP during a packed public meeting on Saturday (15 July) at the Coronation Day Centre in Stranraer to discuss the recent decision by the local Health Board to close the Garrick unit at the hospital for a week due to a lack of available doctors. The lack of staff at the hospital meant NHS Dumfries and Galloway had to restrict admissions to the hospital to reduce the number of patients.


Colin Smyth is furious that the local health board failed to publish details of the temporary downgrading at the hospital and accused them of learning nothing from their recent closure of Darataigh when they admitted a lack of communication and consultation.


Colin Smyth, who is a Shadow Minister for said, “The failure of NHS Dumfries and Galloway to publish details of the closure of the Garrick Ward and explain in detail the reasons to concerned residents simply fuels local concerns that the health board are trying to downgrade the hospital. There is real local anger and fear that the health board aren’t committed to continuing key services such as accident and emergency and those fears need to be properly allayed. Unfortunately, it’s clear that the health board have learnt absolutely nothing from the way they badly handled the closure of Darataigh and have simply left the community wondering what it is they are trying to hide”.
“People understand that the failure of the Scottish Government to train enough key NHS staff has left us with a recruitment and retention crisis in the health service and peripheral areas such as Stranraer are always hit worse due to the challenges of finding staff.  We are seeing GP surgeries facing closure, the out of hours services being restricted and now hospitals across the region having to restrict admissions”.
“So it is vital for the local health board to be far more open and honest about what this means for the Galloway. What they now need to do is publish a clear long term plan for the future of the Galloway Hospital setting out to the local community what services they are committed to providing and how they will manage those recruitment challenges to deliver those services. That has to include a clear commitment to a fully functioning acute ward. There must also be no move whatsoever to downgrade accident and emergency services. Once that clear plan is published they can be held to account for its delivery and if they need to make changes they should do so with full discussion with the local community. All people in Stranraer are asking for is equality when it comes to the say they are treated ”.

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