Letters to the editor – week 15

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Story about hospital upset staff

I am extremely disappointed and dismayed by your front page article in the paper (‘Whistleblower says hospital staff stressed and overworked’, The Oban Times, March 29) relating to Lorn and Islands hospital.

Your decision to print an anonymous letter detailing a number of  inaccurate allegations not only damages the morale of the hard-working staff within the hospital but also damages the reputation of a local paper which is meant to accurately reflect the views of the people who live and work in Oban. We are also frustrated that you chose to only partially publish our statement and omitted to include the first sentence which highlights the  fact that our staff deliver a high standard of care for patients.

Our staff in Lorn and Islands Hospital not only work in the Oban area but they live there as well and they are dedicated, hard-working and always have patients as their first priority. Many of them have expressed to me their anger and dismay about this article.

An added consequence of articles such as this is that it also damages the image of the area as a desirable place for health and social care professionals to work and makes it much more difficult for us to recruit staff.

We would therefore ask that you think twice in future before printing articles based on unsubstantiated allegations and we would ask you to also remember that by printing scaremongering stories such as this you needlessly upset not only our staff but the many patients and their families who use our hospital on a regular basis.

Caroline Henderson,

Local area Manager, Lorn and Islands Hospital.

Gaelic is used as political football

Two items of importance for the future and survival of our Gaelic language, culture and bloodlines have emerged which give me cause for concerns.

First, was John Swinney’s announcement of another plan for the language and its objectives, as well as the money that will be thrown at it.

Throwing money at things is not an answer. If a language is being taught parrot fashion outwith its cultural base, it’s already a wasted effort.

I also heard of some more propaganda coming from Scottish rural affairs minister Fergus Ewing saying that the crofting recommendations were almost complete, but not quite, sort of thing.

Both the language and crofting aims are more than a little loose and not geared towards genuine islanders. Allowing people in Edinburgh or elsewhere to take charge of your cultural ID and tell you what to do through a cheque book is wrong. It is our language that is daily being used and abused as a political football, and that’s very wrong.

Aonghas Eoghainn Mhoir,

Gearradh na Monadh, Uibhist a Deas.

Tough decisions on how we pay for care

Headlines over the past month have highlighted significant concerns, expressed by communities, staff and politicians, related to the potential changes which the Argyll and Bute Health and Social Care Partnership have considered in order to balance their budget.

It is right that these issues are flagged up and communities feel ownership of the precious services which exist to support people in their local areas. It is also essential that those faced with making the difficult decisions about prioritisation of public finances listen to those who use services and to local communities.

I worked in NHS Highland until May 2017 and I am aware of how challenging it is for service managers to meet the growing costs of health and social care from existing budgets. Continuous efforts are made to address areas of harm, waste and variation in the systems of care and some of these yield significant financial benefits – for example, reducing the number of people who fall and sustain injuries is beneficial primarily for
the people themselves, but it also reduces the financial costs of hospital stays and surgery.

Nonetheless, the growing need for care cannot be ignored and neither can the growing costs of care. The current health and social care budget in Scotland is insufficient to cover the costs of delivering the kind of care we would like.

Service managers are faced with daily challenges about how the available budget is allocated for those with the greatest need. Having worked with these managers, I know the level of commitment and hard work each dedicates to the provision of care.

In the same way that the frontline teams of care at home staff, social workers, doctors, nurses, pharmacists and allied health professionals work for the good of the people of Argyll and Bute, so too do those who are less visible to the public but who are nonetheless focused on doing the right thing.

Rather than vilifying the providers of services in Argyll and Bute, we must find ways to work together to ensure our communities’ needs are met in the best ways possible.

Argyll and Bute’s communities hold many of the answers, are committed to
sustainable and resilient futures and are keen to work in collaboration with the statutory service providers. This will require more active and meaningful engagement by the Health and Social Care Partnership with communities, so the voices of those who use, and of those who need, the services are not only heard but also attended to.

By forging new  relationships we can find innovative and creative solutions to the challenges.

We need to consider what kind of health and social care services we want and whether we are willing to pay more for them. We must address the issues which cause people in more deprived areas to have poorer health, and we must increase the investment in primary and community care to help people to stay independent and well.

We must also invest in social care and develop a career structure that recognises the contribution of carers to sustaining people in their own homes. All of this will require a greater percentage of our GDP than we
currently pay.

Pat Tyrrell,

Co-convener, Argyll and Bute Greens.

Mull roads are in a dreadful state

I’m glad to read in The Oban Times that Councillor Alastair Redman from Islay recognises it is we drivers who are paying the price for Argyll and Bute Council’s failure to maintain our roads properly.

I have paid out quite considerably over the past few months for car repairs which I (and my expert garage man) know to have been caused or exacerbated by the shocking state of Mull’s roads.  I am currently seeking compensation from the council for all this expenditure but I am not holding my breath.

I’m pleased the council is now proposing to spend £15 million over the next two years (and I’ve been told by Councillor Hugh MacGregor that work is due to start on a particularly notorious stretch here on Monday April 23 but I’ll believe it when I see it) but I wonder why nothing’s been done before.

Another Mull resident started a roads group a  couple of years ago. Councillor Roddy McCuish came over for discussions, told us that something should and would be done, and went away again. Result? No action.

Councillor MacGregor told me there had been no money for roads over the past few years (magically, there now seems to be some). This argument is untenable and outrageous. I also have no money, but I still have to get my car mended and maintained.

We pay taxes (and councillors) and are fully entitled to a safe and satisfactory built environment, including our roads infrastructure. As well as affecting island residents (delays, road closures, diversions and general mayhem), I feel that many of our spring/summer visitors will turn tail and disappear as soon as they arrive, rather than risk their tyres, exhausts, suspension etc etc.

I should also say that I’ve been in touch with Brendan O’ Hara about this, & I hope to meet with him during his constituency visits & surgeries during the Easter recess.

In the meantime, anything more you can do to highlight this issue would be welcomed.  Thank you.

Sarah Palmer,

Creach, Killiemore, Aros, Isle of Mull.