Health chiefs lay Astley Ainslie Hospital ward closure fears to rest

Sarah Sandow and Councillor Melanie Main
Sarah Sandow and Councillor Melanie Main
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HEALTH chiefs have dismissed fears of ward closures at Astley Ainslie Hospital amid concerns about its long-term future.

Staff at the site had grown concerned for their jobs after bosses held several meetings at which the moving of services from the Millbank, McCallum and Meers wards to Liberton Hospital were discussed.

Some believed that job losses would be next, but NHS chiefs dismissed that and said it was part of a reshuffle of services.

Sheena Muir, acting assistant general manager of Edinburgh Community Health Partnership, said: “Early discussions have taken place regarding reconfiguring certain services. Nothing has been finalised and no dates have been set.”

Unison official Alex Joyce said: “Services will move to Liberton but services will transfer back to Astley Ainslie. It’s all part of a programme to centralise elderly services at Liberton.

“There will be no [job] losses and there may be a slight loss of beds, but only two or three.”

In April, the health board was given permission to start developing an outline business case for the first of five phases of redeveloping the nearby Royal Edinburgh Hospital in Morningside.

The first phase is scheduled for completion by 2014-15 when some services at the Astley Ainslie and Liberton hospitals are due to be relocated.

This has given rise to fears about the site being sold to developers.

The Grange Association and local community councils have joined forces to compile a survey highlighting the site’s high level of daily use by residents.

Sue Tritton, of Grange and Prestonfield community council, said: “We wish to establish who uses the route with a view to possibly establishing rights of way in the long term.”

Green councillor Melanie Main said: “We must protect these spaces for the contribution they make to the health and wellbeing of the community.”

George Curley, acting director of facilities at NHS Lothian, said: “We would not support routes through the site becoming public rights of way. This is a working hospital site.”