Questions are raised over viability of Oban hospital
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.