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Most did their voting last week, CSB. …

Comment posted Argyll and Bute Council: the empire strikes back with Argyll facing worst of all options by Mairi.

Most did their voting last week, CSB. Ours was always going to be a week behind, because our final poll was on 10 May – one week later than those in the other 31 councils.

Mairi also commented

  • It looks at least as if 18-18 is a possibility. Then it will come down to that cut of the cards. Literally.

    Does not bode well for long-term, stable administration.

  • My money is on a last-minute SNP-Alliance coalition.
  • It’s 12 days from the final election in Dunoon, so not that long, really.
  • Completely agree David. It was indecent haste, and detracted from an otherwise creditable performance. Reaping what they sowed.
  • I am not at all surprised. Indeed, some mistook my analysis for cynicism when I commented on 7 May, as people where getting excited about Roddy’s claims of 20 members in his coalition:

    “I would not be so hasty. Mr Walsh has, in the past, shown himself to be a very shrewd operator. And it is not unheard of for people who did think they would go with one grouping to then change their minds.”

    So many councillors have such a long history of jumping ship. Indeed, few have a strong credo or set of beliefs that anchors them firmly. This heralds five years of instability, in my view. Probably the worst of all worlds.

Recent comments by Mairi

  • Partial victory in campaign for return of local maternity scanning services – but…
    Fiona, I agree with you that there is – and always will be – a place for specialist services –whether for maternity or anything else. With you 100% on that.

    Both guidelines on what scanning should be done, and the qualifications necessary for who can do scanning have changed in recent years. The qualification/ training is a major change – because whereas previously midwives did a one week course, now they (or radiographers) need to do a one-year post-graduate course. Such is the level of skill and capability once you’ve done that course, that apparently a decreasing number of obstetricians now turn their hand to scanning. So I’m led to believe that it would only be a very rare scan that would ever need a centre of expertise. That said, in such circumstances, there would probably be a need for a consultant obstetrician too – so regardless of the sonography capabilities of local midwives, a pregnant woman would need to travel to a centre of excellence.
    And I also applaud your past efforts, and can understand how pessimism can set in.

    Call me mad (love your analogy, by the way!) but I do believe (as I think you do) that we owe it to each other to battle for what we believe is right. I’ve fought battles in the past, won some and lost some. The successes are vital – they give all of us confidence. People in the NHS are first to admit that it can be a difficult organisation in which to bring about change. I should know – I worked in the NHS in both England and in Scotland – for the old Argyll & Clyde Health Board. So I’ve got first-hand experience. And I’ve also got maternity services first-hand experience – having two daughters of my own.

    I’m going to keep going. So many women have been in touch telling me about their awful experiences. There are available solutions that can improve at least part of the overall care they receive. It’s collective will that’s needed to make it happen. From all the politicians, managers, users and others you mention. If you ever want to dip your toe in the water again … let me know. Sounds like you’ve got all the credentials 😉

  • Partial victory in campaign for return of local maternity scanning services – but…
    Hi Fiona

    That’s very interesting – it just shows what can be done. Thanks for sending that.

    The plans to bring back scanning would mean that all scans could be done locally – not just the 12 week / confirmation ones. It would also mean that ad hoc and emergency scanning could be done here – something that currently means a round trip and often an overnight stay for what can be a ten minute scan.

    From what people say, this latest reduction of what’s available locally seems like the straw that broke the camel’s back. If this campaign on scanning can act as a catalyst to reviving the Maternity Services User Groups across Argyll & Bute, and with renewed focus on this vital service, bringing about a wide range of improvements – as happened in Angus – then it will have succeeded.

    Thanks for your good wishes!

  • Partial victory in campaign for return of local maternity scanning services – but…
    The campaign seeks three things, in summary:

    1. The restoration of local scanning
    2. Better communication with service users
    3. More support from the Scottish Government.

    And I count the challenge and correspondence between myself and the officials – in both Inverness and Edinburgh – as part of the whole campaign. When I first wrote to the NHS Highland Chief Executive, the expert/ review group hadn’t even met. So pressure was being brought to bear long before the PPF meeting you refer to.

    Had they got their skates on immediately after the September 2013 service withdrawal and reached a decision to do what’s now planned (however insufficient we may believe that to be), we could have had midwives being trained from September 2014, and some degree of service restoration from autumn 2015. Instead of what we now face, namely starting training in the autumn of 2015, and services a year later.

    Success, such as we’ve witnessed, has been to articulate – publicly – some limited progress on the local service restoration. But I think a lot more needs to be done on this front to accelerate local scanning. As stated, that could be by bringing sonographers from elsewhere to our hospitals (as stated above or locums), training our midwives, or recruitment of trained professionals.

    I believe that a very positive achievement on the second point, re communication, is to establish Maternity Services User Groups across the area. Ideally, they should be part of a wider piece of governance to ensure that services are consistent across the area. The NHS managers themselves, in their announcement too, lamented the inconsistency in what’s been available across Argyll & Bute.

    This is progress. Bringing service users and public authorities together can be a challenging process for all parties – yet it’s incredibly powerful and worth pursuing.

  • Partial victory in campaign for return of local maternity scanning services – but…
    Hi Fiona

    Routine ultrasound scanning is no longer offered anywhere in Argyll & Bute. This service was withdrawn in September 2013.

    The National Screening Programme is designed – among other things – to minimise infant mortality. So while no one can be compelled to attend for a scan, the higher the uptake, the greater the chances that problems will be spotted and dealt with.

    At the public meeting in Oban last week, several people raised questions relating more generally to maternity services, and one way of addressing them is to get involved in the Maternity Services User Groups that NHS Highland has committed to setting up. This is a good move, in my view, and would be a good place to bring up the concerns you have.

  • Partial victory in campaign for return of local maternity scanning services – but…
    Hi Lowry

    I was made aware of this issue almost a year ago which is when I first approached the Health Board.

    You’re wrong to suggest that plans were developed before I took notice because when I first contacted the NHS Highland Chief Executive their ‘expert group’ tasked with recommending what to do hadn’t even met. Services stopped in September 2013, and their first meeting was in July 2014. An unacceptably long delay: Babies were conceived and born in that period yet the Health Board couldn’t even hold a meeting to decide what to do.

    I wanted to establish all the facts and take action based on what I discovered. So I’ve been researching what happens in other areas, asking questions of the Scottish Government and making inquiries with other organisations who have an interest in this topic. What we’re campaigning for is well-researched and supported by professionals and users alike.

    Very little communication has taken place since services stopped. The meeting I organised in Oban last week was the first time there had been any public engagement in almost 18 months. User involvement is now happening as a direct consequence. So my interventions have made a difference, I’d suggest.

    Normally you contributions are incisive, Lowry, but you’re wrong about when I started to take an interest in this issue. And my interventions have made a difference so far, for example in promoting and establishing User Groups.

    Crucially, I’m now also challenging how robust and resilient the new plans are. I’m not convinced, and the extra questions I’m asking need to be answered if we want a service that works and stands the test of time. That’s what any campaigner, candidate or representative should be doing.

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