Ques­tions are raised over vi­a­bil­ity of Oban hos­pi­tal

The Oban Times - - Front Page - LOUISE GLEN lglen@oban­times.co.uk

THE HEALTH of peo­ple in Oban and Lorn is more im­por­tant than ever now that a con­sul­ta­tion on its hos­pi­tal’s fu­ture has been an­nounced, says the chair­woman of Oban Com­mu­nity Coun­cil.

Veteran cam­paigner Marri Malloy, who has been at the helm of the com­mu­nity coun­cil for eight years, says a line has been drawn and with­out the sup­port of the com­mu­nity the hos­pi­tal is be­ing closed ‘ bit by bit’.

A num­ber of com­mu­nity coun­cil­lors have or­gan­ised a meet­ing to take place to­mor­row (Fri­day Jan­uary 13) at 7pm in the Cor­ran Halls in Oban.

This week, NHS High­land an­nounced a full re­view of the ser­vices pro­vided in Oban, in­clud­ing emer­gency care pro­vi­sion [A&E], mov­ing away from a hos­pi­tal model to a com­mu­nity model, de­vel­op­ment of planned sur­gi­cal work, max­imis­ing part­ner­ship and net­works, ‘re­al­is­tic medicine’ and ‘ fi­nan­cially sus­tain­abil­ity’.

Mrs Malloy high­lighted the need for peo­ple to make their strong views about Oban’s hos­pi­tal known.

Mrs Malloy said: ‘The merit of the meet­ing will be to in­form the com­mu­nity that there is a re­view of the hos­pi­tal and to give them the op­por­tu­nity to ask ques­tions as to what this re­view en­tails, and what detri­men­tal ef­fect it could have on the hos­pi­tal.

‘My ma­jor con­cern is that this hos­pi­tal is be­ing down­graded and it could fin­ish up be­ing a com­mu­nity hos­pi­tal.

‘The out­come I would like is one where there is more trans­parency – they [ NHS High­land] should be keep­ing the com­mu­nity in­formed in­stead of of­fer­ing plat­i­tudes.’

Coun­cil­lor Kieron Green said: ‘I am grate­ful to the com­mu­nity coun­cil for call­ing this meet­ing about the ser­vices pro­vided in the hos­pi­tal, and am look­ing for­ward to at­tend­ing and lis­ten­ing to peo­ple’s con­cerns. I feel that it is ex­tremely im­por­tant for the voice of the com­mu­ni­ties in and around Oban to be heard on this mat­ter.’

Speak­ing as the chair­man of the Ar­gyll and Bute Health and So­cial Care Part­ner­ship (HSCP), Mr Green added: ‘I hope that the com­mu­nity coun­cil can work to­gether with the Lo­cal­ity Plan­ning Group and Health and So­cial Care Part­ner­ship to en­sure ser­vices lo­cally meet the de­mands of the grow­ing pop­u­la­tion of our area.’

Coun­cil­lor Mary-Jean Devon said she had ‘se­ri­ous con­cerns’ about the fu­ture of health care in Oban and on the is­lands. Mrs Devon said: ‘Hos­pi­tal jobs that should be full-time and per­ma­nent are be­ing down­graded to year-long con­tracts. Who is go­ing to give up a ca­reer else­where to come here on that ba­sis? Not many.’

An an­nounce­ment launch­ing the re­view said it would ‘map out the fu­ture re­quire­ments of hos­pi­tal care in the Oban, Lorn and Isles’.

An­nie Macleod, lo­cal­ity man­ager for Oban, Lorn and Isles, said: ‘ The Health and So­cial Care Part­ner­ship must en­sure that, as a pub­lic sec­tor or­gan­i­sa­tion, it pro­vides safe, high qual­ity care and op­er­ates within its avail­able fi­nan­cial re­sources. We have es­tab­lished a re­view group, chaired by a non- ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of NHS High­land, to take this project for­ward.

‘Mem­ber­ship of the group in­cludes pa­tient rep­re­sen­ta­tives, a lo­cal coun­cil­lor, se­nior clin­i­cians, staff rep­re­sen­ta­tives and se­nior man­agers from the HSCP.’

Dr Richard Wil­son, clin­i­cal lead for pri­mary care, said the fu­ture was bleak. Ex­plain­ing that se­ri­ous dif­fi­cul­ties in find­ing staff has led to the re­main­ing se­nior sur­geons and doc­tors in the Oban lo­cal­ity hav­ing to take on an over­whelm­ing work­load to keep the hos­pi­tal run­ning, he added: ‘We owe them an enor­mous debt of grat­i­tude. How­ever, th­ese in­di­vid­u­als will not carry on for­ever and the plain truth is that we are highly un­likely to find re­place­ments for them.’

Com­mu­nity coun­cil­lors Marri Malloy, left, and Jessie MacFar­lane are wor­ried about the fu­ture of hos­pi­tal pro­vi­sion.

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