CONCERNS over a key part of the Vision for the Vale have prompted a strong response from a health watchdog.
The Vale of Leven Monitoring Group is to write to the Health Secretary and the Chief Executive of NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde following fresh fears over the new Alexandria Medical Centre.
The move follows news that the health board's capital budget faces a 35% cut.
Members at the latest meeting of the monitoring group were told the budget cut meant capital spending priorities by the health board faced a “fundamental review”. This has cast a shadow over plans for the centre.
West Dunbartonshire Community Health Partnership Director Keith Redpath outlined the latest position on the medical centre. He said agreement had now been reached over dental provision on the proposed site, which meant the outline business case could be submitted for Government approval.
However, he added that the health board's spending review, expected to be completed by the end of June, could see a revised capital plan.
MSP Jackie Baillie described the news as deeply worrying at Monday's meeting in Dumbarton Burgh Hall..
She expressed disappointment over the length of time taken to resolve the dental issues. She also questioned whether the Southern General Hospital would be included in the review or if it would escape while other projects paid the price.
She added: “This project is a key part of the Vale Vision and there is a real danger of it being lost. I would hope that we would write to Cabinet Secretary Nicola Sturgeon and Robert Calderwood, the board's chief executive, expressing our deep concern.”
Jane Grant, Chief Operating Officer for NHS GG&C Acute Division, said the review meant every project would be scrutinised to ensure it provided best value.
Councillor Vivien Dance said she shared Jackie Baillie's concerns, adding that she was absolutely appalled at the way the situation had developed.
And Councillor Ronnie McColl also backed calls for a letter spelling out that the monitoring group were adamant that the medical centre should proceed.
Councillor McColl added it was very important that any officials involved in producing reports for the capital review should stress the need for the new Alexandria centre.
After lively debate, it was agreed that chairman Bill Brackenridge should make formal written representation stressing that the monitoring group would not welcome any suggestion that the centre project should be dropped.
Another area of concern for some group members was that the truth about the Vision for the Vale was not getting through to members of the public.
David Bruce from Helensburgh and Lomond Patients Group expressed his disappointment over the lack of a detailed plan to inform people about the progress being made on the Vision. He said there was still a great deal of confusion over the hospital's future, and wanted prompt action to rectify this.
Jane Grant said a lot of preparatory work was being done, and pointed out that it could be counter-productive to put out information before all the relevant facts were known.
Grant Archibald, the board's Director, Emergency Care and Medical Services, added that there was also a significant amount of effort going into ensuring that staff were kept informed as any efforts to improve services would only work with their co-operation.
The next meeting of the monitoring group will be held in Helensburgh's Victoria Halls on June 7.
Issued on behalf of the Vale of Leven Monitoring Group by Logan Taylor.
Press inquiries about the group should be directed to Logan on 07790-137222; 0141-647-8065, or e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org
NOTES FOR NEWS EDITORS:
The Vale Monitoring Group
The Cabinet Secretary required the establishment of the Monitoring Group to oversee the development and delivery of the ‘Vision for the Vale’ as a condition of her approving that Vision.
The Group meets every two months, alternating between Dumbarton and Helensburgh. The Group is required to keep the Cabinet Secretary appraised of the development of plans to implement The Vision and the delivery of these plans.
The Group will remain in existence until the service changes outlined in The Vision are delivered.
Monitoring Group membership:
Chairman: Bill Brackenridge
Argyll & Bute CHP
West Dunbartonshire CHP
NHS Greater Glasgow & Clyde
NHS Greater Glasgow & Clyde Mental Health Partnership
MSP: Jackie Baillie
Argyll and Bute Council
West Dunbartonshire Council
Argyll & Bute Public Partnership Forum
West Dunbartonshire PPF
Helensburgh & Lomond Patients Group
United Campaigns Group
West Dunbartonshire Mental Health Forum