Endoscopy procedures are to cease at Stracathro Hospital in a further blow to Angus health provision.
NHS Tayside said it had taken the decision to limit the service to Ninewells and Perth Royal Infirmary due to patient choice.
The decision has been heavily criticised by one local endoscopy patient and comes at a time when local campaigners are already fighting for the retention of the Mulberry adult psychiatric unit at the Angus facility.
It also recently emerged that elective surgery will be stopped at Stracathro, Ninewells and PRI for a three-week festive season step down.
Fears over the Angus endoscopy unit have been growing in recent weeks an were confirmed in a statement issued yesterday by NHS Tayside.
A spokesperson said: “In relation to the endoscopy service, patients across Tayside were offered the option to attend Stracathro, PRI and Ninewells Hospital for their gastroenterology endoscopy procedure and, despite Stracathro Hospital having the shortest waiting times, only 10% of patients chose to go there.
“This meant that the facility was not being fully used.
“To provide the most effective and efficient service for all patients across Tayside, endoscopy procedures will be provided from Ninewells and PRI.”
The spokesperson said the unit at Stracathro would continue to deliver the urology endoscopy service two days a week, as well as the central decontamination service five days a week.
“The endoscopy service at Stracathro only sees new patient referrals and therefore no patients will have their procedure changed or cancelled as a result of this change,” they added.
“Angus patients should be reassured that Stracathro Hospital remains very much part of our ongoing redesign of health and care services in Tayside and it is our intention that we will treat more patients on the site in the future.”
Arbroath patient Norman Mitchell was shocked to be told this week that his next appointment would be at Ninewells, and not Stracathro.
“I have been in and out of Stracathro over the last few years and going there is far better for me than going to Ninewells,” he said.
“Stracathro is such a nice place. They have a perfect team working there and although I know that people will get what they need done at Ninewells it is not the same.
“They are still doing audits of Stracathro and this has come out of the blue.
“I don’t think they have any idea of the stress and upset this will cause people who require procedures there and it is complete turmoil for the staff,” added Mr Mitchell.