Scots Labour leader Richard Leonard has backed calls for health chiefs to be sacked over cuts to the GP out-of-hours service at Vale of Leven Hospital.

Mr Leonard hit out out after visiting the hospital with Dumbarton MSP Jackie Baillie who called for heads to roll after the reduction in the service was announced last month.

The Labour chief said: "The drastic cuts to the GP out-of-hours service at the Vale of Leven are unwanted and unacceptable and all avenues must be explored in order to get the service back to full capacity."

NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde sparked a furore when they said the lifeline service was being suspended in the evenings and at weekends because it had become "unsustainable".

It stressed the service would till be provided between midnight and 8am from Monday to Friday, but in the evenings and at weekends, people in Dumbarton, the Vale, Helensburgh and Lomond who need to see a GP out of hours would be redirected to the Royal Alexandra Hospital in Paisley or the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital in Glasgow.

Mr Leonard said this was not only a local issue but one of national importance, with cuts to out-of-hours services happening across the country.

He added: "NHS Greater Glasgow & Clyde and the Vale of Leven hospital in particular are at the eye of this storm."

The Labour leader said he recently had talks with the Royal Society of General Practitioners who made it clear that reasons for the GP shortage in Scotland were complex.

He said: "We all agreed that more must be done to invest in training, to plan for rising need and to encourage doctors and medical students to specialise in general practice."

Ms Baillie, who has called for the health board chair and chief executive to be sacked over the issue, welcomed Mr Leonard's support.

The row led to local campaigners having hastily arranged talks with the health board.

However, a board statement issued after the talks was branded "an astonishing piece of spin" by the Dumbarton MSP.

The board claimed in the statement that 24-hour access to medical care remained in place.

However, later in the release it was noted the dedicated GP out-of-hours service would still be in operation only from 11pm to 8am.

Ms Baillie said in reality the service was not available between 5pm and 11pm - "the busiest times".

She is encouraging everyone who cares about the future of the out of hours service and the Vale of Leven hospital to attend a public meeting she has arranged in the Concord Centre in Dumbarton on Monday, March 30 at 7.30pm.

A meeting will also be held in Helensburgh Parish Church on Friday March 27 at 7pm.