In the last few weeks I have had to reassure a number of my constituents who have been under the impression that accident and emergency is to close at Perth Royal Infirmary (PRI). This has been the result of an irresponsible campaign by Conservative proportional list Members of the Scottish Parliament, who have been prepared to suggest that this closure will ‘effectively’ take place. Let me reassure my constituents – accident and emergency will not close at PRI. What will happen is that all unscheduled surgery will now be undertaken at Ninewells, in order to ensure the highest level of care and to make sure that my constituents will have access to the new dedicated Acute Surgical Receiving Unit. And that is the way it should be. If you are involved in a life-threatening situation, you would want to go to where the expert clinicians are based and have full confidence that you will secure the highest standard of care.
What has happened across Tayside is that there has been a review of all acute surgical services with recommendations about how the existing NHS estate should be best utilised. We are facing increasing demands on our NHS with improved life expectancy and new treatments becoming available. The Scottish budget is also being systematically cut by the self-same Tories at Westminster who remain committed to controlling public expenditure as part of their general campaign of austerity. It is, therefore, incumbent upon NHS managers to ensure our assets are effectively managed. These list Tories, of course, know this because they were at the same meetings that I also attended where they barely raised a whimper in protest. The plans for Tayside were designed by the clinicians after extensive public consultation and the Tories’ irresponsible campaign only commenced when the Scottish Government approved what the health service experts proposed.
What the Tories will not tell you is that health services at Perth Royal Infirmary are to be expanded. An expanded elective surgical service (surgery which is planned in advance) will be based at Perth Royal Infirmary to treat both cancer patients and other conditions – including complex major surgery to fully utilise the excellent care facilities and to ensure that these longer term treatments are undertaken closer to home. A&E will remain open as usual and the people of Perthshire can be fully confident of an A&E that will attend to them as required.
But imagine for a minute, if you will, an NHS administered by these Tories. We only have to look to NHS England where the Tories are fully in charge. There the Red Cross have had to assist and A&E departments have had to close their doors to patients. This is just part of a Tory NHS England in real crisis, where privatisations remain a feature of a party ideologically indifferent about a real quality NHS.
You seriously cannot believe a word the Tories say about the NHS and I urge you to treat with caution any further statements from them. What is being closed are schools right across Perthshire by a Tory Perth and Kinross Council. That, though, remains another story. One which you will not hear about from their proportional list MSPs.