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Last Updated: Tuesday, 14 September, 2004, 21:17 GMT 22:17 UK
Chisholm is told to 'get a grip'
Malcolm Chisholm
Malcolm Chisholm left the meeting without comment
Health Minister Malcolm Chisholm has been told he needs to "get a grip" on the health service in Scotland after a meeting with Westminster MPs.

Mr Chisholm explained the controversial hospital reorganisation plans north of the border to Scottish MPs during a two-hour meeting in London on Tuesday.

The MSP was given a "rough ride" by his Commons counterparts with many angry at the way he is handling health reforms.

He left without comment but did not rule out a moratorium on NHS closures.

Health is a devolved matter but there are concerns down south at strong public hostility to NHS reforms in the lead up to a possible general election in 2005.

Scottish MPs fear a public backlash over proposed hospital closures in Scotland.

Especially, after losing two seats on the back of such issues in the last Westminster and Holyrood elections.

On Mr Chisholm's performance, Labour MP for Carrick, Cumnock and Doon Valley George Foulkes said: "I think Malcolm Chisholm needs to get a grip on the health service in Scotland and understand the political realities have to be taken into account and that patients need to be taken account of just as much as consultants' professional concerns."

Fellow MP David Cairns described the meeting as "very positive" an dsaid there was strong concern among the politicians over the state of NHS in Scotland.

He said: "People made their points with vigour and clarity on behalf of their constituents, as you would expect.

"It was very cordial. Malcolm made some opening remarks setting out the problems, challenges and way forward.

"At the end, there was the traditional banging on the desk to thank Malcolm for coming down."

Mr Cairns added Mr Chisholm had said he would not make any decisions he did not need to take before March next year.

'Private meeting'

However, the minister himself refused to comment on what was said behind closed doors explaining it was a "private meeting".

The meeting took place as health officials decided how to reorganise accident and emergency services in the Falkirk area.

Serious injuries in the Falkirk area are now to be treated in Stirling Royal Infirmary.

However, NHS Forth Valley has pledged that the majority of patients will continue to be seen in casualty at Falkirk Royal Infirmary, which is to receive an extra 500,000 a year.

There had been fears that the Falkirk facility could close, jeopardising the safety of thousands of people employed in nearby Grangemouth.

1. Balfour Hospital, Kirkwall
2. W' Isles Hospital, Stornoway
3. Caithness Gen. Hospital, Wick
4. Belford Hospital, Fort William
5. Lorne and Isles Hospital, Oban
6. Perth Royal Infirmary
7. Forth Park Hospital, Kirkcaldy
8. Queen Marg't Hospital, Dunfermline
9. Stirling Royal Infirmary
10. Vale of Leven Hospital, Alexandria
11. Inverclyde Royal, Greenock
12. Falkirk Royal
13. St John's Hospital, Livingston
14. Monklands Hospital, Airdrie
15. Stobhill Hospital, Glasgow
16. Western Infirmary, Glasgow
17. Queen Mother's Hospital, Glasgow
18. Victoria Infirmary, Glasgow
19. Wishaw General
20. Hairmyres Hospital, E' Kilbride
21. Ayr Hospital

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