NHS Western Isles accuses SNP councillors over Bethesda Hospice funding claims

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NHS Western Isles has accused the SNP group of councillors on Comhairle nan Eilean Siar of making statements about the funding of Stornoway’s Bethesda Hospice that are “incorrect and unhelpfully damaging”.

The SNP group had issued a statement recently expressing “frustration” at what they described as “the lack of urgency of the Integrated [sic] Joint Board to fund Bethesda Hospice what it needs”, with SNP Group Leader, Cllr Gordon Murray wondering: “Whether this is an attempt to shut the hospice by starving it of funds remains to be seen.”

The SNP group claimed in its statement that NHS Western Isles and the Integration Joint Board (IJB) were providing 25 per-cent of the hospice’s costs “when they should be funding 50 per-cent, as per Scottish Government recommendations”.

Cllr Gordon Murray added: “…I would urge the community to put pressure on the decision-makers in the Integrated Joint Board and the NHS Western Isles, who are supposed to be acting in your best interest, to right this wrong and fund Bethesda what it needs before it closes.”

SNP Councillor for Loch a’ Tuath, John A Maciver stated: “We are appalled at the way the IJB are treating this issue.

“They blame the previous regime for the underfunding of Bethesda but refuse to rectify the situation which we find disappointing to say the least.

“We will continue to seek ways to help Bethesda maintain this valuable service, recognising that the alternative is definitely not acceptable.”

In response, NHS Western Isles stated: “Debate of this nature in the public domain is not helpful in terms of the relationships between organisations and we are therefore not prepared to comment further on this matter.”

A report on the funding negotiations between Bethesda Hospice and the IJB was withdrawn at short notice from the IJB’s board meeting in December.