A MOTHER whose newborn baby received life-saving care at a threatened children's ward is among those issuing a last ditch plea to the health board not to axe the service as a final decision looms tomorrow[Tue].

The board of NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde is expected to recommend the closure of Ward 15, the children's ward at the Royal Alexandra Hospital (RAH) in Paisley, with inpatient care, day surgery, and short stay medical assessment transferring to the new Royal Hospital for Sick Children (RHC) in Glasgow instead. Paediatric outpatient and community services for children would still be run at the RAH.

The health board say the decision has been driven by clinical reasons rather than cost-cutting, and would give youngsters improved access to a full range of paediatric specialists. It has also said that for nearly two thirds of children admitted by ambulance to Ward 15 in 2015/16 as emergency cases, the journey time to the RHC instead would either have been quicker or no different.

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However, Fiona Mack, from Paisley, said her five-day-old son, Gerard, would have died in March last year if it was not for the fast action of staff in Ward 15, just minutes from her home, when he fell ill with potentially deadly sepsis. The rare condition is caused when the body responds to an infection in away that attacks its own tissues and organs and can lead to multiple organ failure.

Ms Mack, a 30-year-old nurse, and her husband Paul, 31, who works for the Scottish Fire Service, rushed their newborn to the RAH by car after realising something was wrong.

She said: "He was admitted to Ward 15 and they took bloods from him and they realised he was very ill with sepsis. His infection level was raised massively, so they started treatment straight away with IV fluids and antibiotics. Eventually he was transferred across to the renal unit at the children's hospital in Glasgow, but the consultant there said that, basically, it was due to the quick thinking of the staff in Ward 15 that he had survived. He'd basically been very lucky."

Nearly a year on, Gerard, now aged 10 months, has finally made a full recovery but Mrs Mack her "heart is in my mouth" about tomorrow's board meeting.

She said: "Paisley is a massive town and then you have everyone outwith Paisley, in Renfrewshire and Inverclyde. It's going to have a knock on affect for all these areas. I just don't think they've got the beds to cope with it to be honest."

Karen Meikle, a single mother of two from Paisley visits the ward every week with her seven-year-old son, Alex, who has cerebral palsy and suffers from potentially fatal seizures. She is worried that the longer journey time to the RHC could cost him life-saving minutes.

She said: "It'll have a major impact on us as a family, with the travel time and the waiting to get seen time. It's a 20 minute journey in an ambulance to the RHC but if Alex has a seizure, we have to get him to hospital in 10 minutes for the medication to get him stable again.

"Any more than 10 minutes and my son will die."

Carolann Davidson, a Paisley resident and an organiser of the Kids Needs Our Ward (KNOW) campaign whose daughter, now 14, was treated in Ward 15 aged six, said the consultation process had been poor and the board's transport analysis was "totally unrealistic" once congestion around bottlenecks such as the Clyde Tunnel is taken into account.

She added: "We've got Ferguslie Park within Paisley which was named as the poorest place in Scotland last year. The cost and logistics of getting to the new hospital are just prohibitive to a lot of people. From Glenburn in Paisley it's £14 one-way in a taxi to the RHC.

"The health board keep saying it's for clinical reasons but apart from saying they've got shiny new equipment and wifi and single rooms, they've not actually given an improved clinical outcome that would come about by closing Ward 15 and transferring it to the other hospital. Ward 15 saves children's lives all the time. Children will die if Ward 15 closes and that's not being dramatic."

Although it is up to the health board to approve the closure, ultimate sign-off lies Health Minister Shona Robison as the move ranks as a "major service change".

A spokeswoman for NHS GGC said: "The overwhelming clinical consensus from our lead paediatric clinicians at both ward 15 and the new Royal Hospital for Children (RHC), and our Medical Director, is that our proposal to transfer inpatient paediatric beds from ward 15 to the RHC would greatly benefit young children.

"They would receive the same first class, state-of-the-art facilities as other children who already attend the hospital from across the West of Scotland.

"Under our proposal children requiring inpatient care would be treated at the new RHC but the majority of care would continue to be provided locally. Outpatient services, the specialist Community Paediatric service (PANDA), and emergency care for those who self-refer would all remain at the RAH.

"If the proposals go ahead our family support services will work with affected families to address their issues."