Dr Lewis Morrison expresses concern about the centralisation of some hospital services (Herald 20 June) though it is unfortunate that genuine concerns by patients should be interpreted as their “wanting homeopathy on every street corner.”

The Scottish Health Campaigns Network came into being as a direct result of the concerns felt by communities over plans by health boards to reduce local services.Planned closure of Accident and Emergency units in Fort William, Monklands and Ayr were eventually rescinded. Similarly the proposal to close in- patient beds at the Glasgow Homeopathic Hospital, the only homeopathic hospital in the UK to offer such an amenity, were abandoned in the face of opposition by patients who had benefited from the provision of this service as was the proposed loss of the consultant led maternity unit in Caithness.

Although many communities feared the loss of local services, it was recognised that centralisation of specialised treatment, such as head injuries, heart and lung transplants, and neurological damage produced better outcomes.

While time spent by patients in hospital is progressively being reduced as a result of less invasive surgery and changes in medical treatment access by relatives is very important to patients and is one factor which contributes to recovery.

As part of a pilot exercise, members of health boards have been elected by the public to serve on NHS boards in Fife and in Dumfries and Galloway. It is to be hoped that this will lead to members of the public having a greater input into the decisions made by health boards and will introduce greater transparency into the proceedings.

The Scottish Health Campaigns Network will continue to represent those who fear a diminution of patient care in the face of financial cutbacks.


Malcolm Allan