LAST week we learned that the day patient and inpatient unit of the children’s ward at the Royal Alexandra Hospital in Paisley is to close.

You might wonder why this has a relevance to Inverclyde, but I questioned the Health Secretary Shona Robison on the matter in parliament.

In her statement there was no explicit mention that all current emergency cases handled by the RAH and Inverclyde Royal Hospital will be handled by the local A&E departments.

Whilst I appreciate that some urgent cases are already sent directly to the Royal Hospital for Children in Glasgow, I wanted re-assurances that there will be no change to how services are delivered in Inverclyde.

I asked this robustly because unfortunately the SNP government has a track record of breaking promises when it comes to centralising hospital services. We were told repeatedly that the children’s ward in Paisley was safe, MSPs, parents and local campaigners were accused of ‘scaremongering’ (the words Nicola Sturgeon used). 

In May 2016 the First Minister said, ‘there are no plans to close this ward’ and committed to keeping services ‘as local as they need to be’. Yet here we are, the decision to close the ward has been confirmed.

It was leaked out last Friday, giving parliament no opportunity to scrutinise the decision properly. 

Nicola Sturgeon would have been aware that there were proposals at the time to close the unit, so there are questions to ask about the honesty of the answer she so publicly gave.

NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde is already under tremendous strain, many performance targets are regularly missed and we fail to match the Scottish average food-per-patient spend in our hospitals.

Shutting down a key children’s ward on the west coast will add further strain on the already burgeoning services at the Queen Elizabeth. 

My concern here is twofold. Can we really trust a First Minister who says one thing about hospital service reductions before an election and another after?

The other is around the transparency of a government which accuses of campaigners of scaremongering one minute and then goes ahead with controversial plans the next.

I make no apologies for asking questions over the future of Inverclyde royal, let’s hope the Scottish Government stays true to its promises that there are no plans to reduce any services there.