Com­mu­nity coun­cil leader shunned by hos­pi­tal bosses

The Oban Times - - Front Page - LOUISE GLEN lglen@oban­times.co.uk

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 ar­gyl­land­butehscp.feed­back@nhs.net 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.’

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