CAMPAIGNERS today vowed to continue their fight to save Paisley’s sick kids’ ward – despite health bosses confirming its closure.

Health board members today gave the green light to plans to move paediatric inpatient services from ward 15 at the Royal Alexandra Hospital to the new Royal Hospital for Children, in Glasgow.

Protest group Kids Need Our Ward (KNOW) had hoped people power would convince health chiefs to ditch the controversial proposals.

Now the only hope for campaigners is that health minister Shona Robison – who has final say on the plans – will save ward 15.

Jack Davidson, of KNOW, said: “We knew that health chiefs had already made their mind up before they made the announcement.

“This is despite thousands of people petitioning against the plans and only two people writing in favour of the closure.

“Their reasons were down to clinical standards and a shortage of doctors, which is exactly what they were saying five years ago.

“Despite this, the fight will go on and we are going to arrange for Shona Robison to meet with the families who are affected by this.

“There are around 45 families who are reliant on ward 15, so we will bring their concerns to her.”

Four petitions, with approximately 6,600 signatures, were submitted to the health board in a bid to save the RAH ward.

Worried parents believe the Glasgow hospital will struggle to cope with thousands more paediatric patients each year.

It is estimated that around 8,000 extra patients will be treated at the RHC each year, including more than 7,000 emergency admissions, now that plans by NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde (NHSGGC) have been approved.

“The fight will go on,” said Jack. “One of the feelings we have is anger, as they are hiding behind clinical arguments.

“They claim that it is for safety but it is clearly only about saving money. 

“Our message to Shona Robison is to listen, as all of our concerns have so far fallen on deaf ears.

“It’s not over yet. We will not give up this fight.”

Paisley-based Labour MSP Neil Bibby, who has campaigned against plans to shut ward 15, added: “The health board’s plan to downgrade the Royal Alexandra Hospital and close the children’s ward is being driven by cuts, rather than clinical need.

“The health board needs to make £69 million of savings –that’s over £1 million every week.

“This closure and the transfer of 8,000 cases to Glasgow can only go ahead if approved by Nicola Sturgeon and the SNP Government in Edinburgh. 

“Having denied these proposals even existed before last year’s election, it would be a disgrace and a betrayal if the SNP now closed the RAH children’s ward.

“I am dismayed that the health board is proceeding with this plan to downgrade the RAH. The future of the hospital depends on keeping key services.

“A majority of health board members have ignored the views of thousands of local parents.

“The SNP Government must not do the same. Before making a decision, the SNP ministers should visit Renfrewshire to listen to views of local families.”

Outpatient services, the specialist community paediatric service (PANDA) and emergency care for those who self-refer will all remain at the RAH.

It is anticipated that around 8,006 episodes of care will transfer to the RHC while 12,063 will remain at the RAH.

John Brown, chairman of NHSGGC, said: “Today, we saw a detailed discussion on this service change following the conclusion of the consultation.

“Our staff carried out four consultation events and nine drop-in sessions across the Clyde area to help patients and their families share their views with us and allow us to answer any questions they may have.

“The board has today recognised the overwhelming clinical support and decided that young patients from Clyde will now benefit from the same first class, state-of-the-art facilities as other children from across the west of Scotland who already attend the hospital.

“The Royal Hospital for Children is one of the finest paediatric teaching hospitals in the UK and the largest in Scotland. The entire focus is around children and young people, with care provided in a child-friendly environment.”