Politicians from opposing sides of the political spectrum in Angus have added their voices to condemnation of NHS Tayside over the loss of local services.
Angus North and Mearns SNP MSP Mairi Gougeon and Angus Conservative MP Kristene Hair hit out at the health board for axing endoscopy procedures at Stracathro Hospital.
The Courier revealed earlier this week that patients would have to travel to Ninewells in Dundee or Perth Royal Infirmary for the procedure in future.
NHS Tayside said it had acted in response to dwindling numbers of patients opting to go to Stracathro for endoscopy appointments, but the move has been criticised at a time when local campaigners are already fighting for the retention of the Mulberry adult psychiatric unit at the Angus hospital.
Mairi Gougeon said she was “angry and appalled” at the way the issue had been handled.
“For patients to find out this news by reading the newspaper, for there to have been no consultation with patients, the wider community and the local elected members, is a disgrace,” she said.
“With a growing number of services currently being reviewed, this adds fuel to the fire to speculation over the long-term future of Stracathro Hospital, though I have been assured repeatedly in the past that this is not the case.
“With the ongoing reviews and NHS Tayside’s well-documented financial issues, this will not be an easy battle to win but I will not give up on any fight to keep healthcare local to the people of Angus North and Mearns.”
Kristene Hair said the loss of the speciality was “yet another example of NHS Tayside’s desire to centralise all their care”.
“My constituents have already spoken of their disagreement with the move to Dundee and Perth, so the board’s claim of adhering to patient choice seems disingenuous,” she said.
“Why would a patient in Brechin or Edzell want to go to Dundee?”
An NHS Tayside spokesperson said patients across Tayside were offered the option to attend Stracathro, Perth Royal Infirmary (PRI) and Ninewells and, despite the Angus unit 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 added.