Perthshire politicians have slammed their opposition for “scaremongering” about the future of Perth Royal Infirmary.
Conservative MSPs launched a petition against the “downgrading” of the accident and emergency unit, after the Scottish Government rubberstamped plans by NHS Tayside to transfer unplanned surgeries from Perth to Dundee.
The decision came as PRI saw its busiest month for the A&E unit since 2010, as revealed by The Courier on Tuesday.
But now Perthshire North MSP John Swinney and Perth and North Perthshire MP Pete Wishart, both SNP, have accused the Tories of scaremongering, saying the Scottish Government is following expert advice that the move will improve surgical services in Tayside.
Mr Swinney said: “Regional Tory MSPs are behaving in an appalling fashion by scaremongering about the future of health services at PRI.
“The Scottish Government is following expert clinical advice and the Tories are seeking to alarm the public and make political capital out of that decision.
“NHS Tayside has gone through extensive clinical and public consultation to ensure we have safe and sustainable surgical services in the local area.”
The health board has insisted the change will allow more planned surgeries to be carried out at PRI but critics have slammed the move after it was revealed there were 2,405 attendances to the Fair City’s casualty department in May this year, the highest since May 2010 when 2,547 people turned up for treatment.
Mr Wishart said accident and emergency services will still be carried out at PRI, after Mid Scotland and Fife Conservative MSP Murdo Fraser claimed the hospital is effectively being downgraded to a minor injuries unit.
Mr Wishart said: “The SNP Government and NHS Tayside have both given a clear commitment that A&E services will still be provided from Perth Royal Infirmary. Any proposed changes resulting from NHS Tayside’s consultation are supported by clinicians and continue to ensure that delivering safe patient care for people in Perthshire remains the number one priority.
“To have Tory list MSPs continuing to refute what the professionals are telling us will deliver the best possible service for patients is ridiculous. It is time that these opposition politicians stopped trying to alarm the public and listened to clinicians.”