One year on, our Save Stobhill campaign is as strong as ever

WITHOUT doubt the issue which has dominated the Herald s columns throughout 2001 has been the fight to save Stobhill General Hospital.

In January, Save Stobhill protestors kicked off their campaign with the first in a series of public meetings in Kirkintilloch Town Hall.

Over 500 people packed into the hall to hear Stobhill campaigner Charles Kennedy launch a public petition, which would eventually go all the way to the Scottish Parliament.

The Herald sent an open letter to MSP Sam Galbraith asking him to attend a public meeting and asking if he supported the campaign to have general hospital services retained at Stobhill.

Over 3,000 people signed the Save Stobhill petition the first week.

MSP Sam Galbriath responds to the Herald s open letter and says Stobhill has a guaranteed, modernised future.

Also that month, a high profile investigation into plans to site a 76-bed secure unit in the grounds of Stobhill is branded a sham by objectors taking part in the two day event.

FEBRUARY

Doctors and nurses raise serious concerns over staff leaving Stobhill and the difficulties in filling vacant posts.

The Stobhill campaign is strengthened when it s revealed that emergency cases from Glasgow Royal Infirmary have been redirected to the hospital.

After two days, the secure unit re-run fails to reach a conclusion and is rescheduled for later in the year.

In an exclusive interview with the Herald, Greater Glasgow Health Board Chief Executive Chris Spry, reveals four options for the future of Stobhill:

1. Concentrate all in-patient services at Glasgow Royal, with an ACAD at Stobhill.

2. Close Glasgow Royal and build a new hopsital at Stobhill.

3. Do nothing.

4. Put specialist services at GRI and have a District General Hospital at Stobhill with an ACAD.

Hundreds of people brave blizzard conditions to attend the second Save Stobhill rally in Kirkintilloch Town Hall. MSP Sam Galbraith attends and signs the petition.

The latest count reveals that over 38,000 people from East Dunbartonshire, North Glasgow and North Lanarkshire have also signed it.

March

The Stobhill campaign gets a massive boost when Speaker of the House of Commons, Michael Martin MP, lends his support.

And MPs Tom Clarke and Rosemary McKenna give the campaign their backing, as do MSPs Elaine Smith and Patricia Ferguson.

High Road star Lesley Fitz-simons and football pundits Charlie Nicholas and Frank McAvennie also back the calls to save in-patient services at Stobhill.

April

A staggering 44,000 people sign the Save Stobhill petition. A delegation representing East Dunbartonshire, North Glasgow and North Lanarkshire presents the massive document to John McAllion, chairman of the Scottish Parliament s Public Petitions Committee in Edinburgh.

The delegation was met by Springburn MSP and Stobhill campaigner Paul Martin.

Mr McAllion reveals that the 44,000 signature petition is the biggest the Parliament has ever received.

Once again Stobhill is used to take an over-spill of patients from Glasgow Royal Infirmary, when the city centre hospital s medical and surgical receiving beds are full.

Consultant Frank Dunn underlines the need to prevent vital services being stripped from Stobhill at another well attended public meeting in Kirkintilloch Town Hall.

Dr Dunn stunned the packed hall when he said that Stobhill had received 157 acute medical patients in the first four months of the year, from GRI and the Victoria Infirmary.

Stobhill campaigners launch the 'Postcard to Susan campaign, inviting members of the public to send a Save Stobhill postcard to the then Health Minister Susan Deacon. East Dunbartonshire Council lends its support by printing the postcards.

May

GPs hit out at test result delays, following the transfer of Stobhill s microbiology lab to the GRI.

Consultant Frank Dunn, chairman of Stobhill Medical Staff Associaiton, steps up his call for services at the hospital to be expanded and developed.

Greater Glasgow Health Board Chief Executive Chris Spry and North Glasgow NHS Trust Chief Executive Maggie Boyle are called before the Public Petitions Committee at the Scottish Parliament, to answer questions surrounding the 44,000 signature petition.

Cancer specialist Dr Robert Milroy says Stobhill has a vital role to play and warns that delays in test results, following the removal of pathology services from Stobhill, are causing patients unnecessary stress and anxiety.

Retired Springburn GP Jean Turner announces that she will stand in the forthcoming Scottish Parliament by-election for the vacant Strathkelvin and Bearsden seat, as the Save Stobhill candidate.

With an election looming, Health Minister Susan Deacon meets key Save Stobhill campaigners in Kirkintilloch, and promises a moratorium on further services being stripped from Stobhill, pending the outcome of the acute services review.

The Scottish Socialist Party step down from the by-election and urge people to vote for Jean Turner. Charity queen Betty Smart, a life-long Labour voter, lends her support to the Save Stobhill campaign and helps to raise funds for Jean Turner s campaign.

The Scottish Parliament s Public Petitions Committee ignores the views of almost 44,000 people by throwing out the Save Stobhill petition.

The decision sparks wide-spread anger and calls into question the credibility of the Parliament.

June

Candidates standing in the Strathkelvin and Bearsden by-election take part in a hustings meeting organised by the Kirkintilloch Herald Series in Kirkintilloch Town Hall. Labour candidate Brian Fitzpatrick, now the district s MSP said he would resign if acute services were withdrawn from the Stobhill site.

Health Minister Susan Deacon receives almost 10,000 Save Stobhill postcards.

Brian Fitzpatrick wins the Strathkelvin and Bearsden by-election with 15,401 votes. Save Stobhill candidate Dr Jean Turner takes second place with 7,572 and cuts the Labour majority from 12,121 to just 7,829.

The controversial secure unit is back on the agenda, when the rescheduled two-day site option appraisal is held. The appraisal process puts Stobhill as the third choice, behind Belvidere and Leverndale sites.

North Lanarkshire councillors hit out at the lack of representation from their area on the north/east acute hospital services review group. The group meets for the first time on Friday, June 29.

August

Following the publication of a report on the four-day secure unit site option appraisal, health chiefs say Stobhill is still in the frame, despite coming last in the site options table.

Services at Stobhill suffer a serious blow when medical secretaries stage a walkout over pay and conditions.

Operations at Stobhill are postponed following a shortage of consultant anaesthetists. MSP Paul Martin and Stobhill campaigner Charles Kennedy call for a full inquiry.

Nurses stage a demo over fears that North Glasgow NHS Trust managers were trying to close wards at Stobhill by the back door, after patients were transferred from ward 10B to 13A.

A furious row breaks out when it s revealed Councillor Charles Kennedy has not been chosen to represent East Dunbartonshire Council in a high profile acute services review exercise. Following protests from Herald readers, the council asks for Councillor Kennedy s inclusion.

September

The Save Stobhill Campaign gets back on track after the summer holiday period. Plans to take the 44,000 signature petition to 10 Downing Street are announced at a public meeting in Kirkintilloch Town Hall.

However, following the terrorist attacks in America on September 11, campaigners put the Downing Street visit off until the new year.

October

A street collection in Kirkintilloch and Bishopbriggs raises over 1,000 for the Save Stobhill Campaign.

Striking secretaries warn that patient care could be put at risk, claiming clerical staff with no medical knowledge are being asked to do their work. The medical secretaries began indust