This week's Community Column is written by Helensburgh and Lomond's constituency MSP, Jackie Baillie.

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Almost 300 people attended local health meetings last month to discuss NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde’s Moving Forward Together programme – their acute services review by another name.

I do not regard their claims of having a blank sheet of paper as credible, especially when you consider that highly paid consultants and managers have been meeting for the best part of a year.

That said, we held a series of indicative votes at each meeting and there was unanimous support for retaining services at the Vale of Leven Hospital. So there’s no doubt what our local community wants to see.

READ MORE: Helensburgh public sets out its ground rules over health service reforms

Last month, I launched my member’s bill proposal to ensure that a wheelchair is provided to anyone assessed as needing one on a short-term basis.

There is no duty on the NHS to provide people experiencing a short-term mobility problem with a wheelchair. Under the current criteria, the mobility problem must be permanent in order to access the wheelchair service.

This leaves people who may have a short-term mobility problem isolated in their own home and dependent on others. In some cases this could lead to people being stuck in hospital for longer than necessary with a delayed discharge.

Arrangements can be made with charities, such as the British Red Cross in Helensburgh, to borrow a wheelchair, but provision is varied. Many people who would benefit from a wheelchair are left struggling to cope without one.

READ MORE: MSP launches consultation on wheelchair access

Having a temporary wheelchair can help with rehabilition, it cuts down recovery time, and it can reduce social isolation. Plus the proposal can save the NHS money in the long run.

I want to encourage people to give their views in the consultation, a link to which can be found on my website (

I hope that by creating a statutory duty to provide access to short-term wheelchairs, this relatively small change will make a significant difference to people’s lives.