Further Scottish devolution must protect NHS services, says MP

The Borders General Hospital, near Melrose in the Scottish Borders.
The Borders General Hospital, near Melrose in the Scottish Borders.

North Northumberland MP Sir Alan Beith has raised concerns about access to cross-border health services in a House of Commons debate on further devolution for Scotland.

Sir Alan said: “We are having increasing difficulty accessing services across the border between England and Scotland, and increasingly, barriers are being erected. I express the hope that the settlement that Scotland is staying in the United Kingdom will mean that people can continue to cross borders for the best health provision.”

And his concerns have been echoed by fellow Lib Dem Julie Pörksen, who is campaigning to be Sir Alan’s successor as the MP for Berwick at the next election.

Julie said: “It has become much more difficult for people in the north of Northumberland to access NHS services in the Scottish Borders, following changes put in place by NHS Borders and the Northumberland Clinical Commissioning Group.

“Alan and I have been hearing from people with long-term health needs who are being told they can no longer be treated in the Scottish Borders, but are having to travel much further to get the same treatment in more southerly parts of Northumberland or on Tyneside. This is a real burden for many people and also makes a mockery of the principle of patient choice which the NHS has been working to develop.”

Sir Alan added: “Julie and I are working with NHS bosses to make sure patients can continue to be treated where it is best for them, not for the system. We want to hear from you if you have had difficulty getting treatment to build up a dossier of evidence to back up our campaign.”

People who have been affected by the changes should write to Sir Alan Beith MP using Freepost at: Berwick Lib Dems, Freepost NEA14924, Alnwick, NE66 1BR, or use the dedicated email address. All replies will be treated as confidential, but please do include your name and address.