Murdo Fraser MSP raised concerns about a lack of consultation from health bodies regarding changes to Perthshire community hospitals with the Health Minister at the Scottish Parliament.
The Scottish Conservative politician, who represents the Mid Scotland and Fife region, recently asked Humza Yousaf about the issue during General Questions in the Chamber at Holyrood following complaints from local residents that open access to the Minor Injuries Units at the Community Hospitals had been removed.
Commenting, Mr Fraser said: “I pointed out to the Health Minister that in Perthshire, there are community hospitals in Crieff, Blairgowrie and Pitlochry – all of which have seen a reduction in services over the last couple of years. This was a process that was accelerated during the pandemic and now there is an indication that some of the services that were removed at their Minor Injuries Unit during Covid might not be reinstated, and this move is being done without any consultation with the local communities.
“I, therefore, asked the Health Minister if he could give me an assurance that the local communities I mentioned will be fully notified and consulted before decisions are taken about the future of these services. I was pleased to hear him say he agreed with me by stating any future decisions made by Perth and Kinross Health and Social Care Partnership should be done in conjunction with local communities.
“He also said he would look into any specific concerns with any of the three Perthshire community hospitals, which was promising. However, we will hold the Health Minister to these promises as there are rightly great concerns from local residents about no open access being available at any of the aforementioned MIUs at these community hospitals.”
And Councillor Noah Khogali, who represents the Strathearn ward for the Scottish Conservatives, added: "The MIU in Crieff provided a crucial service for residents of Strathearn. The fact that the SNP Government have been so slow to act and the lack of communication from Perth and Kinross Health and Social Care Partnership is nothing short of shameful.
“Proper consultation of the communities that these decisions affect is crucial, and residents and patients must be given the basic respect that they deserve."
Councillor John Duff, who represents the Highland ward, commented: “When considering significant changes to their services such as these, it is vital that the Health and Social Care Partnership fully communicates the implications of the change and consults with local residents. The loss of accessible minor injury and illness services from the doorstep can have a major impact on communities and is yet another local facility which these towns have had withdrawn.”
Blairgowrie and the Glens Councillor Bob Brawn said the Blairgowrie Cottage Hospital MIU has always been regarded as “an essential service” for the town, with treatment always being to a “very high standard.”
“As growth of the town continues, that service becomes more vital and I’m sure that is the view of the majority of people,” he said.
“Unfortunately, the hospital is now accessed by appointment only through NHS 24 as opposed to a ‘turn up and be seen’ system. This change has taken place without any public consultation which had been promised before any future material change in operation.
“It is pleasing to note that the Health Minister has agreed that proper consultation will take place with regard this decision.”
And Councillor Caroline Shiers, who also represents the Blairgowrie and the Glens ward, said: “Very recently representatives of the Perth and Kinross Health and Social Care Partnership attended a meeting of the Blairgowrie and Rattray Community Council and those present made their views very clear. At that meeting, I asked for the development of a two-way conversation with the community to allow community representatives to meet with healthcare providers to ensure that there is good communication and the opportunity for meaningful engagement.
“I welcome Murdo raising this matter directly with the Health Minister and know from conversations with colleagues across the country that communities elsewhere are facing similar challenges.”