It was standing room only in Auchterarder as a public meeting on the future of A&E services at Perth Royal Infirmary drew in over 175 local residents.
Scottish Conservative parliamentarians, Liz Smith, Murdo Fraser and Luke Graham arranged the meeting following an announcement by the Scottish Government proposing to re-direct emergency surgery from PRI to Ninewells.
Joining Liz, Murdo and Luke on the top table were NHS Tayside Interim Chief Executive, Malcolm Wright, Interim Medical Director Professor Peter Stonebridge and Chief Officer of Health and Social Care Rob Packham.
During the evening, NHS Tayside officials stressed that there was a long-term future for the A&E service at PRI but declined to detail or flesh-out what this would look like.
Murdo and Liz are now calling on the Scottish Government to provide more clarity.
Commenting after the meeting, Murdo Fraser MSP said:
“The attendance at last night’s meeting confirmed just how concerned local people are about the future of A&E at PRI.
“Despite the honest and candid answers from NHS Tayside’s top team, we are no closer to understanding the future configuration of PRI’s A&E department.
“Residents are rightly worried about access to emergency medicine and how the additional journey time to Dundee will affect their care.
“There are no easy answers but above all we need the Scottish Government and NHS officials to engage and communicate with the public and last night was a good first step in this regard.”
Liz Smith MSP said:
“Last night’s meeting was a success and I would like to thank NHS Tayside for sending their senior team to address the public’s concerns.
“Everyone accepts that certain changes must be made to ensure the sustainability of health services but these changes must be built on good quality evidence including that relevant to PRI.
“However, that being said, we have seen a number of services stripped from PRI in recent years and residents are rightfully worried that PRI is being hollowed out from within.
“Perth and Kinross is a geographically disparate region and accessing emergency healthcare quickly is paramount and the Scottish Government, NHS Tayside and the Scottish Ambulance Service still have a number of questions to answer on this point."
Luke Graham MP said:
"The packed meeting provided an opportunity for constituents to have their concerns heard.
“Now Westminster has confirmed £2bn of extra funding for the NHS in Scotland over the next few years, it is right that residents of Perth & Kinross share this benefit and have equal access to services as others in Tayside."