No guar­an­tees on long-term fu­ture of hos­pi­tal ser­vices

The Oban Times - - Front Page - LOUISE GLEN lglen@oban­ For more go to www. oban­

A PACKED pub­lic meet­ing on Fri­day night seemed to ap­pease the pub­lic on the fu­ture of Lorn and Is­lands Hos­pi­tal.

How­ever, crit­ics were still not con­vinced the promised ‘open­ness’ from man­age­ment would ma­te­ri­alise and felt they did not re­ceive a con­fir­ma­tion that ser­vices at the hos­pi­tal would con­tinue to be guar­an­teed.

The meet­ing was called by Oban Com­mu­nity Coun­cil and chaired by Marri Mal­loy to dis­cuss con­cerns raised by mem­bers of the com­mu­nity on the ‘de­creas­ing num­ber’ of ser­vices pro­vided at the fa­cil­ity, one of only six ru­ral district gen­eral hos­pi­tals in Scot­land of­fer­ing spe­cial­ist ser­vices across the field.

The plat­form party in­cluded Christina West, the chief of­fi­cer of Argyll and Bute Health and So­cial Care Part­ner­ship (HSCP); GP and pri­mary care clin­i­cal lead Dr Richard Wil­son; and clin­i­cal lead Peter Thorpe; along­side Mrs Mal­loy; com­mu­nity coun­cil sec­re­tary An­drew Ven­nard; and Coun­cil­lor Mary-Jean Devon.

Mrs Mal­loy said con­cerns had been raised by the com­mu­nity about the high num­ber of peo­ple who have to travel to ap­point­ments in Glas­gow.

A let­ter by for­mer clin­i­cal lead at the hos­pi­tal An­drew Hen­der­son was read out stat­ing his con­cerns that the ser­vice in Oban would be ‘eroded away’ and fur­ther cuts to ser­vices should be avoided.

Ms West ex­plained that the hos­pi­tal and com­mu­nity ser­vic- es pro­vided by the HSCP was fac­ing a ‘fund­ing gap’ of £22 mil­lion in the next two years.

In or­der to de­velop so­lu­tions for the short­fall, Lorn and Isles Hos­pi­tal had set up a re­view board which had met twice. On both oc­ca­sions the group was con­sid­er­ing the ser­vices that were be­ing pro­vided and how they could be made to be sus­tain­able.

Mr Thorpe said: ‘The re­view group is not about bed man­age­ment or about clos­ing beds. It is there to ex­am­ine how we are best to of­fer the ser­vices pa­tients need.’

Mr Thorpe con­firmed that about 50 per cent of pa­tients have to travel to ap­point­ments in the Glas­gow area, but he was un­able to give the num­ber of emer­gency pa­tients taken to Pais­ley or Glas­gow.

Con­cerns were raised at the meet­ing about the re­cruit­ment of con­sul­tants and staff, and the open­ness of the board.

A straw pole of at­ten­dees con­firmed no- one was aware of the re­view group or its terms of ref­er­ence. In­deed, even elected mem­bers were un­aware of who was on the group, and one mem­ber asked who was rep­re­sent­ing them.

Af­ter the meet­ing Mrs Mal­loy said: ‘The turnout of the pub­lic was ex­cel­lent. But in fairness they did not know what was go- ing on be­fore they came to the meet­ing so prob­a­bly not enough rel­e­vant ques­tions were asked.

‘I don’t feel the panel were pushed hard enough.

‘The com­mu­nity coun­cil does not in­tend to al­low this is­sue to dis­ap­pear into the hands of a se­lect group to make de­ci­sions. The pub­lic have to know what is hap­pen­ing to the hos­pi­tal now, not af­ter the re­view, when it will be too late.

‘This is the rea­son I have asked Neil MacKay to lead an ac­tivist group in the hope that this sub group will feed into the re­view group.’

Coun­cil­lor Elaine Robert­son told the 500 plus-strong crowd at the meet­ing on Fri­day that she had been asked to take up a po­si­tion on the board.

It is un­der­stood there had never been any open elec­tions.

Other board mem­bers were hand-picked by An­nie Macleod, lo­cal­ity man­ager, who was un­able to at­tend the meet­ing due to lack of no­tice from the group.

A spokesman for the HSCP said: ‘We are com­mit­ted to work­ing closely with the lo­cal com­mu­nity, staff and other stake­hold­ers to en­sure that they are in­volved and in­formed and can feed­back in to the over­all process.

‘ We will also be set­ting up a lo­cal com­mu­ni­ca­tions and en­gage­ment group which will have wide rep­re­sen­ta­tion from the lo­cal com­mu­nity and this group will work closely with the Project Group in re­la­tion to en­gag­ing with the pub­lic.’

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