Campaign joy as plan to shut kids' ward is put on hold

plans to close a children's ward at the Royal Alexandra Hospital, Paisley, have been put on hold, the Evening Times can reveal.

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Parents and campaigners had fiercely opposed the proposal to shut Ward 15 and mounted an angry campaign to keep it open.

The Evening Times understands health board bosses are ready to concede that the review into the ward's future needs to be widened into a much larger review of all clinical services across the NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde area.

A proposal to that effect is expected to be put before a meeting of the health board on Tuesday.

Campaigner Sandra Webster, whose children regularly use the ward, said: "We are delighted. We know it is not the end of the struggle, but we think we have made our point.

"The ward had 4300 admissions last year. There is not the infrastructure at Glasgow's Yorkhill Hospital to cope with the influx if the Paisley ward were closed.

"The ward does not just serve Paisley. People from throughout Renfrewshire and Inverclyde also use it. It serves a huge population."

The campaign to save Ward 15 has been backed by high-profile names, including film star Gerard Butler, who grew up in Paisley.

The actor told the Evening Times last year that closing the ward would be a "blow Paisley can do without".

More than 900 people signed a petition calling on health bosses to think again, and the matter was also raised in the Scottish Parliament.

Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, who is also Scotland's Health Secretary, said she would be happy to meet campaigners to discuss the issue.

Renfrewshire Council leader Brian Lawson, who is a member of the health board, said the latest move meant the plan to close the ward was unlikely to go ahead.

He said: "I think the board realised there is a lot more happening on the ward than at first thought.

"It is going to have to look at the whole thing in a much broader context and that is going to take at least a year.

"From the point of view of the campaign to keep the ward, it's good news. It's won the first battle.

"I think it means there will be children's services at the RAH for a good while yet.

"If there is another battle to be fought in a year's time, then fine, but at least we have established the service is well-used, and is needed."

NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde had originally come up with a range of options for the ward's future to put forward for consultation.

These included a possibility that all in-patient admissions, short-stay medical assessment and medical and surgical day-care paediatric services would be delivered from Yorkhill Hospital for Sick Children, Glasgow, from late this year.

Another option was that all overnight admissions to hospital would be to Yorkhill, but a dedicated area for short-stay medical assessment and planned medical and surgical day care would be retained adjacent to the out-patient department at Paisley.

As part of the process the NHS had already set about holding discussions with interested groups, including parents of children who used the ward. In all, more than 60 families were interviewed.

Ward 15 at the RAH provides 28 beds for paediatric care and as of next month will be the only remaining acute in-patient facility for children in the NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde area outwith the Royal Hospital for Sick Children at Yorkhill.

NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde said it would be unable to comment ahead of Tuesday's meeting.

ewan.fergus@ eveningtimes.co.uk

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