THE recent closure of the inpatient beds at Belhaven Hospital is deeply concerning and will undoubtedly compromise patient care.

According to reports in the national press last weekend, some confused and upset patients faced traumatic, unexpected moves from Belhaven in the middle of the night. Rather than offering the high-quality care that we deserve, this was the sad reality that patients at Belhaven Hospital faced.

It’s now evident that there was a lack of consultation regarding the closure of this vital service, leaving GPs in Dunbar with no choice but to refer patients with short-term illnesses to Edinburgh. Large hospitals are already facing significant stress and the demise of local healthcare facilities such as the Edington, The Abbey care home and Belhaven Hospital only makes this issue worse.

It’s now clear to me that NHS Lothian and East Lothian Health and Social Care Partnership are determined to centralise care at East Lothian Community Hospital in Haddington. But transport between Dunbar and Haddington – or, worse still, Edinburgh – can be hugely expensive. For many, public transport is not an option – and a £50 taxi each way is the only option.

Patients prefer care closer to home and do not want to be far from friends and family. But Scottish Government cuts have meant this is a reality for many patients. I firmly believe local care for the elderly or those in palliative care is essential for our communities and the recent closure of local facilities undermines this.

Sadly, this is not an isolated incident. Across Scotland, we are witnessing similar stories of hospitals and care homes losing beds or being closed completely. My colleague Councillor Donna Collins and I will be urging NHS Lothian and the local Integration Joint Board to reconsider these poorly conceived closure plans.