A WORRIED councillor claims families in rural Renfrewshire will suffer most from a controversial decision to close the kids’ ward at the Royal Alexandra Hospital.

Some parents have claimed transferring inpatient and day case paediatrics from Ward 15 at the RAH to the Royal Hospital for Children, in Glasgow, will cost lives.

And Councillor Andy Doig, who represents Johnstone North, Kilbarchan, Howwood and Lochwinnoch as an Independent, said the decision by Health Secretary Shona Robison to approve NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde’s plan is a particularly devastating blow for those living in rural areas.

He added: “Listening to my village constituents in rural Renfrewshire who may not have a car or good public transport links, I believe the children’s ward at the RAH is a lifeline.

“I watched the announcement of the closure of the children’s ward by the Health Secretary at Holyrood and what struck me in her body language was that she did not agree with this decision.

“I fear the First Minister has forced Ms Robison’s hand. Nicola Sturgeon has badly let down my rural constituents in Kilbarchan, Howwood and Lochwinnoch.

“Of equal concern is the position of the Finance Secretary, Derek Mackay MSP, whose rural constituents in Bishopton and Langbank are no less vulnerable than mine.

“Did Mr Mackay try to stop this disgraceful closure and, if not, why not?

“I think the voters of Renfrewshire North and West deserve a clear answer on this.”

However, both Ms Sturgeon and Ms Robison have stressed that the Scottish Government listened to the opinions of clinicians before deciding that transferring services from Paisley to Glasgow, where state-of-the-art facilities are available, would benefit young patients.

Ms Sturgeon added: “As this matter moves forward, the interests and health of children will be paramount at all times.”

Renfrewshire North and West MSP Mr Mackay said the main concern for all politicians should be “the best interests of children in need of NHS care.”

He told The Gazette: “I expect the decision to transfer these services will have been taken with that being the number one priority.”