Moray MP Douglas Ross has called for urgent talks after learning about plans to close the Fleming Hospital in Aberlour.

Douglas said; “Some time ago when I suggested the future of the Fleming Hospital was in doubt, this was denied, and it is bitterly disappointing to learnof the decision to close the Hospital in Aberlour.

“The main problem seems to be a shortage of trained staff with current staff members not able to get adequate breaks. This is not a new problem and the shortage of staff is exacerbated due to vacancies and sickness.

“Patients currently in the Fleming Hospital will transfer to the Stephen Hospital in Dufftown, which has capacity for 17 beds, but currently only nine are open. The plan proposes that the Fleming Hospital will remain open for Out patients only.

“There are too many unanswered questions with this whole proposal. The main issue here seems to me to be related to the shortage of carers and care packages available in Moray. This is clearly evidenced when we read that the profile of the Fleming Hospital in Aberlour is of elderly patients waiting for care packages. These patients ideally should either be in care homes or at home with an appropriate care package, not sitting in a local hospital. The Moray situation with regard to care needs to be addressed as a priority.

“I’m also seriously concerned about the logistics involved in this proposal. The plan involves moving patients to Dufftown, with the access problems this may cause to relatives wishing to visit and the extra costs involved.

“We seem to be moving swiftly from the position of having many community hospitals across Moray, to closing these down and concentrating the medical care provided into what looks like medical hubs located in the different areas of Moray.

“If these plans in themselves were not enough to concern local people, the fact that these proposals are to take place within two weeks, sends out a worrying message. What is the point in the Moray Health and Social Care Partnership holding surgeries in Speyside to allay fears, when it is apparent to everyone that the decision has been made.

“The Health and Social Care Partnership and the Scottish Government have serious questions to answer about the downgrading of our facilities in Moray.”