Plans for closure of Mearnskirk House

Mearnskirk House, Newton Mearns
Mearnskirk House, Newton Mearns

Mearnskirk House is set to close its doors raising concerns over patient care and staff jobs.

Walker Healthcare currently provides specialist care for older people at the hospital in Newton Mearns, but NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde says that its contract will not be renewed when it expires next year.

The hospital provides care for up to 72 elderly patients in East Renfrewshire, Glasgow and Lanarkshire.

Jim Swift, Conservative councillor for the area, said: “Greater Glasgow and Clyde NHS Board chose to close Mearnskirk hospital.

“There has been an NHS winter beds crisis for many years now that seems to persist long beyond Christmas.

“We have an ageing society, which means greater demand on services.

“By reducing supply, the SNP in Holyrood is not thinking about this realistically, nor is Greater Glasgow Health Board.”

Mr Swift continued: “Because there are insufficient beds elective procedures get cancelled, so waiting times for surgery go up, because patients usually need recovery time after an operation

“The council’s representative on the NHS Board (an SNP member and representative for Mearnskirk) didn’t even seek to save it.”

NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde said the closure is in line with new government policy whereby only elderly requiring a ‘hospital’ level of care should be treated in an acute setting.

A spokesman for NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde said: “We have begun discussions with trade unions on how we consult with affected NHSGGC staff. Further meetings are planned to agree a format for our consultation with our staff and we expect this to start within the next few months, well in advance of March 2019. Our team in Mearnskirk House will also work with HSCPs over the next year to develop plans for any affected patients.”

East Renfrewshire Council said the re-development of Bonnyton House, would help provide a continuity of care in the area.

Councillor Swift said: “At the same time the Health Board was considering shutting Mearnskirk, the Labour and SNP Council administration wanted to close Bonnyton House care home, when it was delivering high quality care, albeit at too high a cost.

“The council didn’t make changes that would have made it financially viable, particularly around fees and day-care that would have rendered the facility viable. The changes to day-care have now been made.

“However, now that they still have a care home and will turn some of the beds at Bonnyton House into palliative care beds, Bonnyton House will pick up some of the gap in beds and provide local palliative care beds; so there will be six beds saved out of 71.”

Cllr Swift continued: “In short by sheer serendipity, with the NHS Board closing a hospital when we have a beds crisis and have had for years and the council failing to sell a care home to be fair in the teeth of stiff Conservative opposition but mostly by sheer incompetence, we have two acts of folly delivering a decent outcome. If only so many cock ups ended so well.”