Community council leader shunned by hospital bosses
HEALTH board bosses refused to sit beside the chairwoman of Oban Community Council because they did not like the way she talked about them at meetings, a spokesman for the community council said.
Marri Malloy, a pensioner who is convener of Oban Community Council (CC), was told by members of management at the Integrated Joint Board (formerly the health board) they would not share a platform with her and suggested an elected member sat in her place.
Mrs Malloy had convened a public meeting in the Corran Halls last Tuesday evening (June 13) to discuss ongoing concerns about the loss of services provided in Oban. She has been vocal in her criticism over lack of communication and consultation from hospital bosses.
She has persevered in her claims of a reducing list of services that are provided at the hospital, an assertion the hospital management refutes, stating it has increased the number of people it treats by three per cent.
A member of the community council, who did not want to be named, said Mrs Malloy would not be making a statement to the press on the matter, but that she ‘ will not back down in her belief that the hospital is cutting services without communicating well with the public’.
The member continued: ‘I have no idea why anyone who is paid £ 80,000 to £100,000 a year, I believe, would think it appropriate to refuse to sit and answer questions with the community council chairwoman.
‘Marri has volunteered within the town for more than 40 years. She is not paid for her job. She does it because she believes the town deserves to know what is going on in the hospital. She is doing what she is doing with the backing of the MSP [ Michael Russell] and the community council.
‘It begs the question: if there is nothing to hide, why did they not sit beside her and help people understand what is going on?’
Councillor Mary-Jean Devon who has also spoken out about her concerns about the hospital, was confirmed by health minister Shona Robison MSP as a member of the NHS Highland Board this week. Mrs Devon said she was raising the concerns of constituents about access to health care with Ms Robison and would ask her to consider the treatment of Mrs Malloy.
Mr Russell, MSP for Argyll and Bute, said he was concerned to hear a serious complaint about lack of communication from the health board.
He said: ‘No public or private body should attempt to censor criticism or exclude legitimate complaint. If that was the intention, then there should be an immediate apology to Marri and the community.
‘The short history of the IJB is now littered with communication and governance mistakes. The current vice chairman, who was chairman until May, seems particularly unwilling to listen and learn, as does the chief executive.
‘I would therefore urge both of them to publicly acknowledge the failures, publicly apologise and then give quick public evidence of a major change in approach.
‘The board members - and especially the Argyll and Bute councillors on the board - also need to get a grip on the officials and ensure clear democratic accountability is restored.’
A spokesman for the Health and Social Care Partnership said: ‘Our dedicated staff work extremely hard to provide a wide range of health and social care services for the local communities in Oban, Lorn and the Isles.
‘Locally, however, like many public sector organisations across Scotland we are going through change and we recognise that this can be unsettling for the local communities we serve. We are also committed to working closely with the local community, elected members and other community representatives and we welcome public scrutiny and encourage feedback.
‘In relation to the concerns that have been raised about how a member of public felt treated, then naturally that is concerning and something we take very seriously.
‘I would encourage them to contact our feedback team at firstname.lastname@example.org so any concerns can be investigated.
‘Alternatively, we can arrange for them to meet an independent member of our Integrated Joint Board to discuss their concerns.’