CAMPAIGNERS fighting funding cuts to Scotland's only homeopathic hospital are to take their fight to Holyrood.

A petition will be heard today (Tuesday) at the Scottish Parliament by patients opposed to a decision by NHS Lanarkshire to axe referrals for services at Glasgow's Centre for Integrative Care.

Elaine Smith MSP for Coatbridge & Chryston, will address the committee in support of this petition, which has been launched by Catherine Hughes, from Glasgow, a patient and nurse.

Campaigners said a letter had emerged which showed that the Scottish Health Council had concerns about the decision, although it did not oppose it.

It said the board had not explained fully how its alternative proposals would benefit patients.

The board has said that services proven to be "clinically effective" such as accupunture will continue to be offered locally.

The letter states: "It is our view that the equality impact assessment does not reflect the disproportionate impact of people with long-term conditions and disabilities and how this will be mitigated."

The hospital, is the only one of its kind in Scotland, and treats patients suffering from conditions including Multiple Sclerosis, severe arthritis, Parkinson's, Chronic Pain, ME and Motor Neurone Disease.

Last year NHS Lanarkshire became the third health board to cut funding for services.

NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde has said the future of the hospital is dependant on financial support from other health boards.

NHS Lanarkshire said around 270 new patients were most affected by the decision.

However campaigners claim later figures showed there were 1,239 return patient visits to the CIC in one year.

Petitioner Catherine Hughes said: "Patients' views don't count, boards and bureaucrats rule. I want to expose how patients are being denied democracy shockingly.

"In the current Lanarkshire case, when an overwhelming 80.6% of the public and patients voted to continue with the CIC, they were ignored.

"Just nine Board members voted down the wishes of 4,800 people responding to the board's public consultation.

"That's why some patients nickname the CIC "last hope hotel".

"There must be democratic protection of patients from unjust decisions against their wishes made by unelected boards. That's why patients are appealing to the elected Parliament and Government to step in".

MSP Elaine Smith, who is opposing a local clinic being closed in her Coatbridge constituency, has also raised a motion before Holyrood calling for an end to the exclusion of MSPs in the decision-making process.

Dr Harpreet Kohli, NHS Lanarkshire's director of public health and health policy, said: "We stress that there will be no change for existing patients as they will continue to access the current service provision and will continue to do so until their course of treatment is completed and they are discharged from the service."