CONCERNED parents have labelled a trial to centralise surgery for cleft palate in Glasgow a failure and are demanding the return of a world-leading clinic.
The Scottish Government decided last December to close the specialist cleft lip and palate unit at the Royal Hospital for Children and Young People in the Capital and move it through to the west.
Campaigners launched a petition called Save Our Sick Kids Surgical Services which attracted over 6,000 signatures but despite this Health Secretary Shona Robison ploughed ahead with the centralisation trial.
There are currently over 1,000 cleft palate patients in the east of Scotland with more than 100 babies born each year with a facial cleft – which occurs when parts of the face do not fuse together during pregnancy.
Luke Dalrymple is one of a group of parents who relied on the services of world-leading cleft consultant Dr Felicity Mehendale who has not been part of the Glasgow team.
The 35-year-old teacher from Humbie in East Lothian, said he had been kept in the dark over major reconstructive surgery for his seven-year-old son Orran who was previously operated on by Dr Mehendale.
He said: “We’ve heard nothing – that’s been the biggest issue.
“We’re still sitting on this cloud of not knowing anything.
“They’ve put out these plans and said they’re doing all these things but we’ve had no contact from this new organisation. We’ve met with the cleft Edinburgh team but we’ve had no discussion with the new centralised team at all.
“In a couple of years when Orran’s teeth come out he’s going to have bone-grafting through the upper jaw and we have no idea what their plan is [for Orran], they’ve not contacted us.
“They say between the ages 7-10 that’s when that surgery happens – he’s nearly eight now and we’ve had no contact from the surgery side of things from the so-called centralised team. So for us the big impact is they’ve had no impact.”
Concerns from campaigners include a lack of multi-disciplinary visits to local surgeries from the centralised team and fears over the trial being a “done deal” with no prospect of a return to the status quo of a surgery team in both Edinburgh and Glasgow. Mr Dalrymple, who is married to Hayley and also has a younger son Innes, aged four, added that the problems do not concern travelling to Glasgow.
A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “The NHS has worked hard to ensure cleft patients receive their surgery on time and without delay. This includes surgeons doing more weekend surgery to ensure patients are seen and treated in a timely fashion. National Services Scotland are monitoring progress with transition to the new surgical arrangements, and will provide the Scottish Government with feedback to allow the Health Secretary to review how it is performing when the transition period comes to an end at the end of June.”