Rural families unite to save five hospitals from the axe

RURAL communities in Dumfries and Galloway are fighting NHS plans that could lead to the closure of five community hospitals.

Among those under threat is Thornhill Community Hospital, which mainly provides recuperative care to the elderly.

Dumfries and Galloway Health Board is currently consulting local communities to consider three options. The most radical is that all cottage hospitals in the area are replaced with community teams delivering care in the home, with four community rehabilitation units created to support Dumfries and Galloway Royal Infirmary and Galloway Community Hospital.

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Thornhill Community Council member Scott Jardine said: "The hospital is the one thing which has united the community, across really all boundaries of politics, position and location.

"If plans go ahead for the transfer of health services to Dumfries and Galloway Royal Infirmary, it could take up to an hour and two bus rides for people to get there."

A spokesman for NHS Dumfries and Galloway said: "The consultation was launched in October 2009 and has since been extended to the end of February 2010.

"No decision on any of the three options has been taken."