Answers needed over A&E plans

CARRICK politicians have reacted angrily to proposals which would see Ayr Hospital’s accident and emergency department lose its orthopaedic trauma unit.

NHS Ayrshire and Arran revealed to staff earlier this month that they need to trim £500,000 over two years from its orthopaedic budget, and staff and locals feared that it would lead to A&E services at Ayr being cut altogether.

Carrick MP Sandra Osborne and Adam Ingram MSP have hit out at the plans made by health board chiefs who claim they have to cut £1 million in their orthopaedic budget over the next two years.

Mrs Osborne is seeking clarification on the Ayrshire and Arran Health Board budget and particularly the future of Accident and Emergency Services at Ayr Hospital following a staff information bulletin issued by NHS Ayrshire and Arran which has caused widespread public concern.

She said: “I have long suspected that services at Ayr A&E would be downgraded even though accident and emergency remained above the door.

“I am extremely worried in general about such massive cuts of £58 million over three years when the SNP Government went into the election pledging to protect the health service budget. This is a betrayal.

“I want to know exactly the implications of this and how it will affect services.

“It is very hard to see how it could be achieved without job losses and increased waiting lists and closures of facilities.

“I have asked for an urgent meeting with the chairperson and chief executive of the health board for a full briefing on the reasons for these cuts and how they intend to carry them out.”

Mrs Osborne said it was understandable that local people had expressed anxiety over the proposals.

She continued: “Despite denials by the health board, it is entirely understandable given the recent history of threats to the A&E Department at Ayr Hospital that public anxiety has again been raised when people hear that the 2009 proposals to develop a centre of excellence for in-patient trauma services at Crosshouse are being looked at again.

“And I have also sought assurances from the health minister Nicola Sturgeon.”

Mr Ingram MSP for Carrick, Cumnock & Doon Valley saidthe health board should “get a grip” if it wanted to retain any shred of dignity with the local public after proposing to downgrade services at Ayr.

He said: “It seems to me that senior management in the local health board have learned nothing from this chastening experience.

“Yet again they are pushing for a “we know what’s best”, like it or lump it proposal.

“It really is the height of arrogance to suggest their aim is to move as rapidly as possible to “reduce uncertainty”.

“These are the people who are creating the uncertainty in the first place.

“I am shocked and alarmed at the way NHS Ayrshire & Arran has floated this proposal resurrecting as it does many of the arguments made to justify their proposed closure of Ayr Hospital’s A & E unit.

“We need to ensure that all proposals coming forward for efficiency savings are properly scrutinised and all viable alternatives explored.”

“What appears to be happening here is a preferred option being established at the outset and arguments being developed to support that option.

“Those of us who fought for the retention of the A&E will well remember the Independent Scrutiny Panel, appointed by Nicola Sturgeon to review the proposal, and its comprehensive demolition of this approach.

“It’s high time the Health Board got a grip if it wishes to retain any shred of credibility with the local public.”