THE next few months will determine whether or not Inverclyde Royal’s birthing unit will stay open.

As a three-month consultation gets under way, campaigners must be wondering if NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde health board is trying to wear them down.

Even condemnation from patients’ body, the Scottish Health Council, was not enough to persuade the board to ditch the controversial proposal, so apparently desperate is it to include the unit in a drastic £69 million package of cuts.

This issue isn’t just about making it more convenient for Inverclyde women to give birth here rather than have to travel to Paisley or Glasgow.

It is feared closure will hamper attempts to maintain the population, discourage new businesses from coming in, affect the economy, cause more stress and put extra pressure on local medical facilities, which, it is claimed, may not be able to cope because of cutbacks at IRH.

Most board members, however, seemed unmoved by such dire warnings, voting for consultation and passing on the final decision to Health Secretary Shona Robison.

It was encouraging to see Inverclyde councillor Jim Clocherty speaking out forcefully at the board in favour of the unit. This was his debut at the board, and, even if he didn’t get his way, he has shown he is determined to make Inverclyde’s presence felt there.

Campaigners will now renew their efforts for the final push towards saving the unit.

Inverclyde Royal must not lose any more services.