A&E at Perth Royal Infirmary to be Downgraded


The proposals to improve surgical services in NHS Tayside which have been approved by the Scottish Government have left local residents dismayed.

For many in the more rural areas, the prospect of having to attend Ninewells for emergency care is a daunting one.  Whilst most accept that Ninewells is probably the better equipped hospital for major emergencies, the loss of an Accident and Emergency facility in Perth is potentially dangerous.

NHS Tayside covers a large region including Aberfeldy, Pitlochry, Crieff, Auchterarder and many more smaller settlements.  It seems ridiculous for patients who are suffering life threatening conditions to have to drive past Perth to Dundee.

Then you have the travelling distance for family members.  Most of the time when a hospital admission is an emergency, family members bring clothing and other essentials when the patient is in a ward.  What used to be a relatively quick trip now becomes something much more intimidating.

It may only be an additional 20 minutes drive according to Google maps but from personal experience that drive becomes exhausting after you have done it a few times.

The logic of having Ninewells as the emergency base is sound.  The practicalities however may be rather different.  How many local residents will still attend PRI with emergencies because that is what they are used to?  How many will have to be seen and then turned away to Ninewells?  Will there be transport to take them or will they be turned away at the door without being seen?

How many times will the extra travel time cause a worsening of a critically ill patient?

For those of us in rural communities, the wait time for an ambulance can be bad enough, add to that the additional travel time for treatment and who knows.  This of course puts an enormous pressure on the already struggling emergency services.  Paramedics and ambulance technicians will now have to attend to patients for much longer than they did previously in many cases.

Health Secretary Jane Freeman may is quoted as saying “I have been clear that an absolute condition of agreeing to these proposals is that the A&E at the PRI will be retained and continue to serve the people of Perthshire.”  An A&E without the ability to admit patients is not what most would consider to be serving the people of Perthshire.


  1. Headline is missing leading A&E is not to be downgraded at all but will continue to function as is. What the changes are (as far as I am aware) are patients who are emergency surgical patients -the majority of which would not be going through PRI’s A&E anyway but instead would be referred directly in by GPs, etc- instead of going straight into PRI for emergency surgery they will go directly to Ninewells. My understanding is that has been in places from Fri to Mon am for years anyway as PRI don’t take emergency surgical patients at weekends.

    The reality is we don’t have enough surgeons to cover all hospital sites in Tayside. Also due to staffing shortages NHS Tayside have had to move to contingency plans fairly frequently and divert emergency patients from PRI to Ninewells. I think the detail.of the consultation NHS Tayside showed that the estimated no of patients effected would be about 4 per week.

    If I needed emergency surgery I would prefer to go to the hospital where there were available doctors to operate and the medical staff to take care of me. The reality is unless we knit an army of surgeons some unpopular decisions like this have to be taken in the interest of patient safety and providing a safe service.

    But as far as I understood there is no changes to be made to A&E


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