I have been overwhelmed by the response from local people to the campaign to protect GP out-of-hours services at the Vale of Leven Hospital.

Three hundred people crammed into a public meeting in Alexandria recently to hear directly from local GPs about the threat to services.

And hundreds more turned out at another meeting in Helensburgh the following week, including many who travelled up from Dumbarton and the Vale of Leven, to make sure that their voice was heard.

The health board and West Dunbartonshire Health and Social Care Partnership are considering plans to close out-of-hours services at the Vale on Monday – Friday evenings.

This would mean 120 extra patients on average each week travelling across to Paisley in an emergency.

The last bus to Paisley leaves Dumbarton at ten past six so anyone without access to a car, or the money to pay for a taxi, would effectively lose access to out-of-hours services.

No wonder local doctors are worried that lives would be put at risk because many local families would think twice about heading over to Paisley in the middle of the night.

I challenged the Health Secretary in the Scottish Parliament to take the cuts off the table.

Her response was astonishing; instead of listening to the concerns of local GPs she told me I should I be encouraging them to do more shifts. GPs in Dumbarton and the Vale work hard to care for local families and they should not be held responsible for the failure of health board managers to recruit enough staff.

The provision of out-of-hours services was a key commitment in the Vision for the Vale put in place by Nicola Sturgeon when she was Health Secretary.

Eight years on, the health board and the Scottish Government are tearing the Vale Vision to shreds. From reducing clinics, cutting beds, cutting the number of nurses and now, at least 12 different health board ‘reviews’ which could have a negative impact on the Vale.

That’s why it is so disappointing that the new SNP Council Leader was apparently too busy to attend last month’s health board meeting to discuss the Vale maternity cuts. West Dunbartonshire Council only gets one seat at the table.

We cannot afford to be left without a voice on the health board when cuts at our local hospital are at the top of the agenda.