By a Newsnet reporter
Scottish Labour’s Shadow health spokeswoman Jackie Baillie is today facing embarrassment after a leading hospital campaigner blasted her decision to launch what he called a “diversionary” campaign on hospital services.
Jim Moohan who is the chairman of the Hospitalwatch group that has campaigned for hospital services at the Vale of Leven Hospital, called the Labour MSP’s actions “so wrong”.
Mr Moohan criticised the MSP and accused her of launching her own campaign, “without engaging in conversations with staff and patients.”
Mr Moohan claimed that Ms Baillie’s campaign to bring A&E services to Gartnavel or Golden Jubilee Hospital goes against the wishes of the 20,000 people who attended a rally in Argyll Park in 2007.
Speaking to the Lennox Herald, Mr Moohan said: “Our MSP must listen to democracy. I am absolutely astonished, as too are the vast majority of the public in the decision by Jackie Baillie to commence a campaign for services north of the river. It was under our MSP’s watch that we lost the A&E in 2004.
“This may well be the final nail in the coffin for the Vale Hospital unless we, as a public, react to this diversionary tactic by the MSP, who is making decisions without engaging in conversations with staff and patients.”
Jim Moohan and other members of Hospitalwatch are due to meet Health Secretary Alex Neil to discuss the future of services at Vale of Leven.
Commenting, SNP MSP Gil Paterson said:
“This is hugely embarrassing for Jackie Baillie, coming under fire from her own backyard. Hospital campaigners are understandably angry that in her desperation to create a bandwagon to leap on, she is undermining the case that Hospitalwatch have been making since the A&E at Vale of Leven was closed while Labour were in office.
“It is common knowledge in the area that Labour was salami-slicing services at the hospital to cause it to close.
“Jim Moohan’s comments clearly show just how shameless Jackie Baillie truly is. Local campaigners are under no illusion about how badly they have been let down by the Labour party.
“Before the 2007 election, the SNP made clear that unlike Labour we were serious about keeping the Vale of Leven open and delivering health services to patients in the local area.
“It is the SNP that protected Vale of Leven Hospital from Labour’s plans to close the hospital entirely and it is clear that it is still the SNP that is working with local communities instead of undermining them as Jackie Baillie seems determined to do.”
Ms Baillie is no stranger to controversy having issued false statements on Scottish NHS infection rates earlier this year.
Speaking in January, the Scottish Labour MSP publicly attacked Scotland’s Hospitals by claiming they were at the top of the European Infection League table.
In fact official statistics showed that Scotland’s hospitals were the cleanest they had ever been and had last reached infection levels claimed by Ms Baillie when her own party were last in Government.