Pos­i­tive talks de­spite bud­get cuts

The Oban Times - - Front Page -

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.’

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