First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has been urged to intervene and order Scotland’s largest health board to halt plans to suspend several out-of-hours care centres.
Ms Sturgeon said the move by NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde was a “temporary change” as the board sought to recruit more staff.
The health board announced on Tuesday that out-of-hours services had been “temporarily suspended” at Inverclyde Royal Hospital, Greenock Health Centre, Easterhouse Health Centre, Gartnavel Royal Hospital and the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital.
Dumbarton MSP Jackie Baillie said the changes meant her constituents would now be forced to travel 20 miles to get medical help out of working hours.
She claimed the “temporary” plans could be in place for up to two years, telling Ms Sturgeon: “The health board have had years to sort this problem out but have instead stuck their head in the sand and done nothing.
“Will the First Minister instruct the health board to reverse this decision?
“And while she is at it, sack the chair and chief executive of NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde for gross incompetence.”
Ms Sturgeon said the health board had “announced temporary changes while they have a significant and sustained recruitment campaign”.
She added Health Secretary Jeane Freeman has made clear to bosses that “they have a responsibility to ensure improvements and to make sure their out of hours services meet the varied needs of the local population”.
Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard said: “These are neither changes or improvements, they are closures.”
Concern about out-of-hours performance was one of the reasons why the Scottish Government stepped up its oversight of health services in the area, the First Minister said.
She pledged: “The Health Secretary will continue to work with the board to ensure the improvements are made to allow all these services to operate in the way patients expect them to do.”