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Last Updated: Tuesday, 17 July 2007, 19:12 GMT 20:12 UK
Hospital decision by 'year's end'
Vale of Leven Hospital
Services at the hospital have been under threat for years
The decision over a hospital facing a scaling-down exercise will be taken by the end of this year, Health Secretary Nicola Sturgeon has said.

The timescale emerged during a visit to the Vale of Leven Hospital at Alexandria in West Dunbartonshire.

Health chiefs announced in May that they wanted to scale back emergency procedures and other hospital services.

The proposals recommended that future emergency patients should instead go to the Paisley's Royal Alexandra Hospital.

Rehabilitation services would also be moved under the plan.

Independent scrutiny

But local politicians have hit out at the proposals saying these would lead to the loss of up 150 jobs and 60 beds.

During her visit, the minister emphasised that no final decision had yet been taken.

Her spokesman added. "Whatever happens will be subject to independent scrutiny and will go out to public consultation.

"She expects that it will come to her for final decision towards the end of the year."

Ms Sturgeon said ahead of her visit: "I know lots of staff and patients in the Vale of Leven area will have questions about NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde's proposals for the future of the hospital.

"I am here to listen to what patients and staff have to say about this issue and any others they raise with me."

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