Positive talks despite budget cuts
SAVINGS of £16million are yet to be found in the £22m black hole in Argyll and Bute’s health and social care budget.
Argyll and Bute Integration Joint Board (IJB) is facing a deficit of £16.3m in 2017-18, and a further £ 5.7m in 2018-19, in its annual budget of £256m.
Cost-saving plans to change more services from the hospital to the community have been devised by the Oban, Lorn and the Isles Locality group and a public engagement exercise on these ‘difficult choices’ will start soon to help inform the IJB’s decision.
IJB chairman councillor Kieron Green revealed at Monday’s meeting of the Health and Care Forum in Oban’s Lorn and Islands Hospital: ‘ We have to make £22m in savings over the next two years. Of this, we have plans for £ 5.5m. This should be a relatively easy sell.’
However, referring to the remaining £16m of savings yet to be identified, he said: ‘There is lots that is going to be about money – balancing the books.’ Councillor Green told The
Oban Times: ‘If we cannot deliver our statutory obligations, we will have to go back to our parent bodies stating we need extra funds.’
Despite the ‘ unprecedented’ challenges, Dr Richard Wilson, the locality’s primary care clinical lead, appealed to the meeting: ‘Let’s get positive.
‘This hospital is the most stable rural hospital in rural Scotland, by quite a long way.
‘We are in a very good position. This is a training hospital. This is how we get [doctors] in. It is absolutely vital. We have a number of GPs looking for work in the area.
‘This hospital has the most cost-effective beds in Argyll and Bute.’ Councillor Green agreed: ‘It costs twice as much to treat someone on Mull than in Oban.’
Annie MacLeod, locality manager, added: ‘The hospital was never going to close. We are making sure we have a good, sustainable, teaching hospital that is secure for years to come. We are trying to bring in contracts to make it more attractive to doctors. We are pleased to welcome Alasdair Macmillan, a new surgeon. The diagnostic services we have are second to none.’
A new cardiac ultrasound machine also arrives next week and a new ultrasound scanner for pregnant mothers is expected early this year.
Councillor Elaine Robertson implored: ‘We have to start to be positive.
‘We cannot go on undermining.’