PATIENTS are pressing health board officials for a rethink over permanent controversial cuts to the GP out-of-hours service in Inverclyde.

NHS Greater Glasgow & Clyde bosses have been holding public consultation meetings in the area to get people's views over changes which would mean only limited cover would be available locally at weekends and on public holidays.

The meetings continue next month and a survey has also been published which is open for responses until December 8, before a final decision is made next year.

If the plans as advanced by management go ahead then most patients from Inverclyde would have to travel to Paisley's Royal Alexandra Hospital if they had to see a doctor outside surgery hours.

Ashley Bell, who lives in Inverkip with husband Andrew and 21-month-old daughter Islay, was one of the people who went along to a consultation drop-in at the village hub. She told the Tele of her deep concern about the plans.

Ashley said: "I am massively concerned about the changes to out-of-hours, especially with having a wee one.

"When Islay was a baby, she had breathing problems, bronchiolitis, and we were told by NHS 24 that we would have to go to the Royal Alexandra in Paisley to see a doctor because there was no-one at Inverclyde, and even during the day you can't get an appointment with a GP.

"It's like winning the lottery getting a GP appointment.

"No wonder people turn up to A&E at Inverclyde Royal.

"It takes hours on the phone to get through to NHS 24."

Ashley said she was eventually told just to take Islay straight to the Royal Hospital for Children in Glasgow. But she feels that Inverclyde needs a properly equipped out-of-hours set-up.

The mum-of-one said: "Something needs to be done. The out-of-hours service has to be saved.

"I feel quite strongly about this. We shouldn't have to travel to Paisley. I am concerned about babies and the elderly."

Up until February 2020, Inverclyde was served by a GP out-of-hours service seven days a week.

It was reduced in February 2020 when the service entered 'business continuity arrangements'. This was intended to be a temporary measure but continued for around three years.

The proposal on the table would mean no GPs out-of-hours in an Inverclyde location during the week, with only some access on a Saturday and public holidays.

NHS bosses say that changes made to the service since 2020 have been positive for patients and for the service itself, 'resulting in fewer unexpected closures'.

A spokesperson for the health board said: "With extensive patient involvement, NHS GGC has moved to a more stable appointment-based model of delivering GP out-of-hours, since 2020. 

"This change has resulted in a reduction of waiting times, fewer unplanned closures of sites and a high degree of satisfaction from those accessing the service. 

"Recent engagement figures show that 93 per cent of those who have accessed the service said it met their needs, up from 83 per cent in 2021.

"As we seek to create a long-term, robust and sustainable out-of-hours model which meets the needs of patients now, and in the future, NHS GGC is seeking feedback from patients and the public on the future model for the service.

"We have already held a number of engagement sessions in the Inverclyde area, and we will hold two further sessions in the coming weeks, where people can learn more about, and share their views on, how we deliver GP out-of-hours services."

Ashley says she hopes other people will come forward to voice their opposition.

She said: "It's not for us, it's for the future and our children. You don't understand how important it is until you need the service."

The next local consultation drop-ins will be held on November 7 at Coppermine Community Centre in Gourock (3-5pm) and November 14 at Boglestone Community Centre in Port Glasgow (5-7pm).

The consultation survey can be found online at