Evening Times wins a people's victory in year-long campaign to save hospital

The Evening Times in Glasgow has won its year-long “Hands Off Yorkhill” campaign and a reprieve from closure for the world-famous Queen Mother’s Maternity Hospital.

The paper was first with the news that health minister Malcolm Chisholm had overruled Greater Glasgow Health Board’s decision to close the Queen Mother’s Hospital and break its unique link with the Royal Hospital for Sick Children.

Instead, the Scottish Executive announced that £100 million would fund a new joint hospital in Glasgow, which will replace the Queen Mother’s Hospital and the RHSC, which are both based at Yorkhill.

Evening Times editor Charles McGhee, who appeared before the Scottish Parliament’s petitions committee to argue for the retention of the hospital, said: “This is a tremendous victory for people power – and for the Evening Times, which has a proud history of campaigning journalism.

“It is also proof that newspapers, working closely with the community, can take on powerful bodies such as health boards and win.”

About 400 stories have been written on the campaign, which was headed by chief reporter David Leask and health reporter John McCann.

Earlier this year, the paper delivered a 156,000-signature petition to the health minister demanding that the Queen Mother’s Hospital and the RHSC be retained on a single site.

The Evening Times carried nine pages on the story on the day of the announcement last week.

During its campaign, the Evening Times faced threats of legal action from health board planning director Catriona Renfrew.

It also saw a complaint by Professor Margaret Reid, head of the health board’s maternity services working group, rejected by the Press Complaints Commission. She claimed the campaign was inaccurate and misleading.

The PCC said the newspaper could legitimately adopt a robust stance – and pursue a partisan approach – provided its coverage did not contain significant inaccuracies..

By Jon Slattery

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