CLYDEBANK’S hospice has been saved after two years of campaigning.

St Margaret of Scotland Hospice will no longer be under the threat of means testing for patients of 28 extended-care beds.

The problem arose when it was decided in Edinburgh that the Whitecrook facility’s Mary Aikenhead Ward should be classed as a care home, not a hospital.

That meant NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde could shift responsibility and funding to the West Dunbartonshire Health and Social Care Partnership (HSCP) – but the hospice and campaigners argued that would lead to means testing of patients to access the care beds.

NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde confirmed to the Post that their finance and planning committee has agreed St Margaret’s is a hospital, and said an agreement would be drawn up with the hospice.

A spokeswoman said: “At this meeting of a sub committee of the board it was agreed, in principle, that the Mary Aikenhead Centre should be designated a Hospital Based Complex Clinical Care facility and a service level agreement should be agreed with St Margaret’s Hospice to implement that decision.”

Bailie Denis Agnew, who has championed the hospice cause and spoke on behalf of the charity, said he believed the future of the hospice was now secure.

He told the Post: “The security and future of the hospice seems to be on a stronger footing than it ever has been.

“I’m very pleased and I know the hospice will be very relieved.

“The hospice is unique – the health board have recognised that. I’m re-assured and very grateful to the health board for doing this.

“Staff at the hospice have really worked tirelessly - I think this was a big concern for them. It’s good news.”

In an emergency meeting in January, West Dunbartonshire Council voted unanimously to oppose means testing in front of a packed Clydebank Town Hall.

And MSP Gil Paterson held a meeting with health secretary Shona Robison to try to resolve the dispute.

Bailie Agnew added: “I am extremely grateful for the huge cross-party support, particularly from Gil Paterson who worked tirelessly to achieve this result and to Councillor Marie McNair for her ongoing commitment.

“I would also like to thank Cllr Douglas McAllister who, as provost, supported and endorsed my request for the motion to council in January, which all elected members unanimously endorsed.”

The NHS confirmed their finance and planning committee of the health board agreed the Mary Aikenhead Centre was a hospital.

The Whitecrook facility is a top-rated facility but must fundraise extensively to meet the costs of their palliative care work.

The January meeting over extended care beds attracted about 200 members of the public, including staff and religious leaders, to show their backing. The Post also supported the campaign against means testing.

Cllr Marie McNair, chair of the West Dunbartonshire HSCP, added: “I welcome this decision - it has been a long time coming.

“This is best Christmas present that the hospice could wish for, and will be a huge relief to them.

“I thank everyone who has worked to achieve this.

“The hospice is very close to my heart and this decision allows it to continue to provide an excellent service free from the uncertainty that previously existed.”