Plans to potentially more than halve the number of intensive care units for babies in Scotland have prompted warnings that children’s services will be put at risk.
Public health minister Aileen Campbell told MSPs at Holyrood yesterday that the axe will fall on three neonatal intensive care units, leaving just five across the country – and she added that these could be cut to just three “in the longer term”.
She insisted it will mean better care for the small number of very sick babies.
It came as the closure of the children’s ward at the Royal Alexandra Hospital (RAH) in Paisley was confirmed by health bosses. Thousands of families have campaigned against the closure and Labour last night called on ministers to halt the Greater Glasgow and Clyde NHS plans.
The proposed shake-up of maternity and neonatal services is among 76 recommendations in a review set up by the Scottish Government.
Under the plans, the 15 neonatal care units currently in place would remain, but the eight of these designated as intensive care units would be reduced to five.
Labour health spokesman Anas Sarwar said: “It is clear once again that the SNP’s failure to workforce plan has left our maternity and neo-natal units under-staffed and existing staff over-worked.”
Ms Campbell said the changes will “transform” maternity cover in Scotland.
“There is no doubt such change will be challenging to deliver and for many of our midwives and obstetricians it will represent a significant change in ways of working, but it will give better care,” she said.
Conservative MSP Donald Cameron welcomed the report, but also voiced concerns over the reduction in intensive care units.