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Last Updated: Monday, 22 November, 2004, 15:25 GMT
SNP argues against centralisation
The SNP says A&E units should be retained in local hospitals
Centralisation of hospital services should be seen as a last resort, the Scottish National Party has claimed.

The SNP has drafted a submission to the group brought together to oversee reforms within the NHS in Scotland.

The party said maternity services and 24-hour accident and emergency cover should be retained locally.

An SNP government would force health boards to prove that any centralisation proposal was a last resort and subject the plan to independent scrutiny.

A group led by Professor David Kerr has been asked to look at the future shape of acute services in Scotland.

The SNP submission said there was a lack of strategic direction for the NHS in Scotland, with health boards being left to their own devices.

It said that there had been "a Scotland-wide drive towards the centralisation agenda".

The SNP's recommendations included directly-elected health boards, reform of the working time directive and closer working between smaller hospitals and big teaching hospitals.

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