VALE of Leven Hospital campaigners say they have reached agreement with NHS officials on a local rota system to staff the hospital’s GP out-of-hours service.

Jim Moohan, chair of the Hospitalwatch group, spoke to the Reporter after a meeting last week with officers from NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde (NHSGGC).

The talks took place after the health board announced last month that people would have to make appointments to use the service.

Mr Moohan said: “The rota system will ensure protection at first hand for the community and a better connection to take away long travelling to see a GP and makes sure that they are better protected.”

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

The area’s MSP, Jackie Baillie, said: “I am pleased that progress is being made with local GPs taking over the staffing of the out of hours service.

“This is something that I have pursued with the Cabinet Secretary for Health as the lack of a reliable service from NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde was affecting people’s health and well-being.

“It is simply unacceptable that this most basic of emergency services was not being provided at the Vale and local people had to travel many miles to be seen.

“NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde needs to ensure that the service is adequately resourced and that there is no reduction in hours for local people to be seen at the Vale of Leven Hospital.”

An NHSGGC spokesperson said: "We are committed to the GP out-of-hours service at the Vale of Leven and have ensured the community continue to have access to a GP out-of-hours in the short-term, as we look to implement long-term improvements to extend the service.

"As part of those improvements which will help create a robust and sustainable out-of-hours service for the Vale of Leven, we have been working in partnership with the local HSCP and with GPs in the area to create a rota system.

"This will ensure clinical staff are available to fulfil shifts to operate a GP out-of-hours service which extends beyond the current overnight cover.

"Coupled with a new appointments system rolled out at the start of June, which allows patients to be cared for from home via video and telephone consultation, alongside face-to-face appointments and physical home visits, we are confident the new approach will improve local access to out-of-hours care at the Vale and meet the needs of the community now, and for the long-term."