Call for answers over Crumhaugh future

Councillor Ron Smith
Councillor Ron Smith

THE six Hawick councillors have issued a joint statement urging health bosses to reveal their plans for the future of Crumhaugh House.

Their plea comes in the wake of criticism that the majority of them failed to speak during last week’s Hawick Community Council meeting, at which more than 60 members of the public turned out to grill health boss Dr Ross Cameron.

One week after the NHS medical director revealed that cuts to hospital beds in Hawick will be made – and that he sees no future for a dementia unit – the town’s representatives have produced a collective comment which urges the health board to provide answers on the fate of the west end facility.

It reads: “We all recognise and fully appreciate the outstanding service provided over many years at Crumhaugh House.

“We fully accept the concerns expressed by staff, by patients and relatives over the uncertain future of the facility. In the light of these two opinions we support the status quo until such time as we, the staff and the client group, are all convinced that changes will bring improvements.”

And they assert: “We therefore call on NHS Borders to bring forward, at the earliest possible date, detailed proposals for the future of Crumhaugh House and its patients so that they can be fully discussed by all interested parties.”

The statement was revealed at a meeting of Teviot and Liddesdale Area Committee on Tuesday night, after chairman and councillor Jock Houston added the issue to the agenda under items deemed urgent. Around 20 members of the public attended – after it had been advertisted on local radio earlier that day – and heard Councillor Ron Smith explain his silence the previous week.

“I was specifically singled out by the Hawick News last week as having contributed nothing to the presentation on Crumhaugh House. That’s quite true, I was there to learn”, he stated. “I wanted to hear what Dr Cameron had to say and what the public attitude was. The large number who attended were concerned about the impact of change on their relatives, and staff were concerned about the impact on their patients. That much was clear, and in that respect I learned what I had to come to learn. Dr Cameron’s presentation, however, was incomplete.”

And he was applauded, by adding: “The process is not yet complete, but that also means that we still have the opportunity to influence it. I ask therefore that we put pressure on NHS Borders to bring forward their full proposals urgently, so that they can be fully discussed by the community and councillors. Until that time, leave Crumhaugh House well alone.”

Councillor George Turn-bull also gave assurances that he would oppose any plans to close the hospital, stating: “I am not here to play the game with the local press, or jump through hoops for the Gavin Gibbon column or the Hawick News. But I can assure you we have been fighting to save Crumhaugh House, and no decisions can be made until all the information is on the table. We will keep the pressure on.”

Councillor Stuart Marshall also urged Mr Smith, one of the Executive members for social work, to force the issue with officials. He added: “The games need to stop being played.

“The people that really matter in this are the people who are cared for at Crumhaugh House.”