PATIENTS suspected of having breast cancer would no longer go to Inverclyde Royal and would instead be sent to Paisley under a new plan drawn up by health board bosses.

Possible breast cancer cases are currently dealt with at IRH for assessment, diagnosis and treatment.

But now NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde want to take that service away from Greenock and shift it to the Royal Alexandra Hospital in Paisley.

They have heralded the move as creation of a new 'one-stop-shop' breast cancer service and insist it will be better for patients.

But the Tele can reveal that this same model of care was actually pioneered at Inverclyde Royal almost 20 years ago.

At the time it was hailed by then-health minister Sam Galbraith, with other hospitals encouraged to follow suit.

Local councillor Jim Clocherty, who represents Inverclyde on the health board, is concerned at the plan to move post-screening services out of the area.

He says he understands the desire to provide the best possible service but firmly believes that it should be kept within the community.

Councillor Clocherty said: "It's a traumatic time in anybody's life to be suspected of having any type of cancer.

"You would want to be diagnosed as quickly as possible as you want the answers as quick as you can.

"But you want to have the service as close to home so you can have your family and friends about you.

"We have got to make sure that the treatment is as close as possible to where people live - not everybody has cars and not everybody has ways of getting to the RAH.

"It's not the easiest place to get to."

Mr Clocherty added: "I also believe we need better public consultation.

"We have got to know what is happening in the bigger picture at the IRH.

"We can't keep being told services are being taken away from it without knowing what services are going into the hospital."

Back in 1999, Inverclyde Royal Hospital was hailed as a trailblazer after starting a 'one-stop-shop' breast cancer clinic where patients suspected of having breast cancer could be assessed and diagnosed within hours.

Now health chiefs want patients to go to Paisley for assessment, diagnosis and treatment.

The health board, who say local routine screening will remain unchanged, have failed to answer a series of key questions about their plan.

A statement released by NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde said: "As part of the Scottish Breast Screening Programme, the West of Scotland Breast Screening Service invites all women aged between the ages of 50-70 are invited to attend the West of Scotland service approximately every three years.

"The proposed redesign of Breast Services is aimed at giving women much quicker access to assessment, diagnosis and treatment via a ‘one stop shop’ model.

"This model of care enables women to get same-day results which reduces the worry and stress of delays in getting the results and means that treatment will start sooner.

"Women with breast conditions, which don’t include a suspicion of a malignant tumour, would be discharged back to the GP or referred to a local service.

"The small number of women with a suspicion of cancer would be referred to the Royal Alexandra Hospital where they would have access to assessment, diagnosis and treatment (if required) via a ‘one stop shop’ model.

"In drawing up this proposal we invited women who had experience of breast cancer services to rate the importance of a local or a one stop service.

"The overwhelming finding was speed of diagnosis was far more important to these women than where the service was located.

"This is also backed by GPs and cancer doctors."

The Telegraph has asked the health board for more details about the blueprint.

We asked them why the new 'one-stop-shop' clinic can't be based at IRH.

We asked if staff would be moved out of Inverclyde Royal in the event of the proposal being approved.

We also asked if the proposal involved cost saving.

The health board was unable to answer any of these questions.

Instead they issued a further statement which said: "Our work around the redesign of Breast Services is to enable us to achieve the Scottish Government’s Beating Cancer: Ambition and Action 2016 target.

"This programme is focused on on early detection and diagnosis while also improving the patient’s care experience.

"We are currently exploring a range of options through a clinically led process in order to design a model of care which will allow us to make the best use of our specialist resources.

"It is too early to outline what implications the final model will have on potential staff location or cost savings."