Hollywood superstar Gerard Butler has backed a campaign to save a children’s hospital ward from closure.
Health Board bosses will today decide whether to formally consult the public on plans to shut ward 15 at the Royal Alexandra Hospital.
They want to transfer services for sick youngsters to the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital in Glasgow.
It is part of a package of measures designed to save the health board the Â£70m it needs to cut to balance its books. Elsewhere, Glasgow’s Lightburn Hospital is under threat of closure, with services for the elderly planned for relocation to the Royal Infirmary and Stobhill, while the Centre for Integrative Care (CIC) based at Gartnavel is also facing the loss of seven inpatient beds.
The children’s hospital ward move has infuriated local people who say it could take them around an hour to travel from their homes to visit.
They have the support of Paisley born actor Gerard Butler who said he is “shocked and disappointed” at the plan.
Parents have launched the KNOW campaign – Kids Need Our Ward – which has cross party political support.
Father of four John Kelly is leading the campaign to save the ward from the axe.
He said: “The length of time it will take to get to the new hospital is our big concern.
“It would take people in outlying areas of Paisley who don’t have a car around an hour to get to the hospital and it would take people in Inverclyde who also use the RAH even longer.
“My mother was recently in hospital and I visited twice a day which is challenging if the hospital is nearby.
“I fear it would affect children adversely if they were in hospital and couldn’t see their friends or family because people will find it very hard to get to the hospital in Glasgow.
“The health board has made it clear there is state of the art equipment and a centre of excellence at the new hospital but that ward 15 is an excellent service and they have no issues with it.
“Every parent I have spoken to has been positive about the RAH and had nothing positive to say about the move.
“I know Gerard Butler’s mum and he has given his full support to the campaign because Paisley can ill afford to lose local services.”
The star said: â€œI am shocked and disappointed to hear this news. I am currently working abroad, however I do keep in touch with events in my home town and this is really sad news.
“The closure of the ward would be a real blow for Paisley, its people and most of all its kids. I have been in touch with the campaigners for the Ward and support them fully in their efforts to save the ward.”
A health board spokesman said the proposed move to the new hospital followed extensive engagement with local interests, including parents, to hear their views.
He added: “We have been able to reassure people that the majority of children’s services will still be provided at the RAH, including community services, outpatients and self referral to Accident and Emergency.
“During our engagement process, the issue of transport to the RHC has been raised. It is important to note that many children who attend ward 15 for care also already attend the RHC.
“Our engagement programme identified that for many patients currently attending the RAH the RHC is equally, or more, accessible for those from Inverclyde and West Dumbarton. We continue to review access issues for Paisley patients..
“This proposal has been informed by an option appraisal involving a range of interested parties, including parents, carried out by the board in 2012.
“It concluded the clinical case had been made for transferring the inpatient and day case services to the new RHC and that clinical case for change will be reported to the board.”