HEALTH officials have insisted they are not “misleading” the Helensburgh public after the town's MSP called for clarity on the future of services at the Vale of Leven Hospital.

Hundreds of people attended consultations in Helensburgh and Dumbarton, organised by Jackie Baillie and the Hospitalwatch campaign group, to call on NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde (NHSGGC) to retain many services, and reinstate others, at the Vale of Leven Hospital.

The meetings were organised in response to the health board’s redesign of health services under a Moving Forward Together banner.

Papers from a meeting of the health board last week state: “Early feedback from initial sessions is that the vast majority of people recognise the challenges health and social care are facing and agree with the direction of travel set out by the programme.”

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However, this has been rejected by the MSP on the basis that the health board has not yet revealed any service change proposals for the Moving Forward Together programme.

Ms Baillie said it is impossible for local people to judge the “direction of travel” without knowing how service changes will affect them and in particular, at the Vale of Leven Hospital.

Compared to the two public meetings held by the MSP and Hospitalwatch, which attracted around 300 people, the health board recorded just 26 people at their meeting on the plans in Alexandria – figures which, according to Ms Baillie, “can hardly stand as a basis for decision-making”.

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She said: “NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde state that members of the public are happy with the direction of travel of their Moving Forward Together programme.

“But the health board have continuously told the public that they have no detailed plans for the programme.

“I’m not convinced that people can develop an opinion on the programme if they don’t know how the changes will affect them.

“At the two public meetings I held in Dumbarton and Helensburgh, my constituents were clear that they want services retained at the Vale of Leven Hospital.

“In addition, the health board managed to attract just 26 people to their meeting in Alexandria, in comparison, the public meetings I held with Hospitalwatch which attracted around 300 members of the public who wanted to have their say.

“The health board must develop proposals and then come back to the public to hear their views.”

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A spokesperson for NHSGGC said: “We are not misleading the public. We are continuing our public meetings across greater Glasgow and Clyde to share with the public the vision for health and social care as set out in our Moving Forward Together strategy.

“This is a joint approach with our health and social care partnerships. Our strategy sets out our vision to transform health and social care to meet rising demands and make best use of our resources in the future.

“It sees new models of care being developed that will support people to live longer, healthier lives at home or in a homely setting, with more care being provided in or close to people’s homes in the community.

“When patients need a level of care or treatment that cannot be provided in the community, they will have access to world-class specialist hospital care.”

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The spokesperson added: “We have already held two sessions in West Dunbartonshire to hear feedback about local priorities and how they align with the strategic vision set out in Moving Forward Together to transform health and social care.

"We also attend as many local meetings with local groups and charities as possible.“There has been broad support for this vision from people attending our local meetings.

“The idea of being able to access more services in the local community has been welcomed.

“We are now in the next stage of working with local communities to develop specific cases for change which will enable us to deliver this commitment.

“It is too early to know the detail of specific changes that will be introduced as this is a long-term strategy and at this time our engagement is focussed on listening to our patients, the public and our staff to hear what is important to them.

“Where in the past we have come to communities with specific proposals, we are taking this new approach to create more meaningful engagement and involvement.”