Newsroom – might be worth putting this ‘school-dinners’ …

Comment posted McCuish announces details of ‘team fit to build recovery in Argyll and Bute’ by Mairi.

Newsroom – might be worth putting this ‘school-dinners’ side-show in a separate story.

Mairi also commented

  • Also, the story and the pictures have just been on “The Wright Stuff”, Anne Diamond expressing disgust, etc, etc.
  • Take my word for it, CSB. I hate it when people say that to me, but it is.
  • This is a not-so-little ‘challenge’ for the new chair of education – whoever that may be.

    This has gone truly viral, and has even been (mis)-reported by the Daily Mail.

    And yes – I know it is a school in Argyll. In the Minister for Education’s own constituency. Expect this to reach the BBC and news outlets today, is my guess.

  • Is it not a bit odd to announce the Chair of Cowal and Bute Area Committee before one third of that area has even had a chance to elect its councillors?

    I realise Roddy is trying to steal a march here, and this sort of manoeuvring is to be expected. But is it not a bit disrespectful towards the people of Dunoon that their councillors are – by dint of timing – not even in the reckoning?

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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37 Responses to Newsroom – might be worth putting this ‘school-dinners’ …

  1. Is it not a bit odd to announce the Chair of Cowal and Bute Area Committee before one third of that area has even had a chance to elect its councillors?

    I realise Roddy is trying to steal a march here, and this sort of manoeuvring is to be expected. But is it not a bit disrespectful towards the people of Dunoon that their councillors are – by dint of timing – not even in the reckoning?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  2. I note ‘education and learning’ has been kepy open for mr Breslin or another? Another day would have been better, but new admin very keen to get off starting blocks.

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  3. If this is going to be a truly progressive alliance they will need to tackle the iniquitous social care charging system as a matter of urgency.

    An independent survey has shown that it charges some of the highest rates in Scotland. It seems to regularly bill service users for services they haven’t received and appears to have been designed by the finance department for the finance department and not for the service users or their care managers.

    Either by luck or design the Progressive Alliance has made an inspired choice in Anne Horn as the champion for vulnerable adults. I hope that her sound understanding of their problems, allied to her well known propensity for hard work, will start to overcome many of the problems of social care and bring more fairness to the system.

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    • Totally agree,
      I spoke to councilor McCuish last year about the deliberate exclusion of service users in any crucial engagement regards charges for service provision and he was shocked that there was no dialogue regards charges with clients.

      I suspect the officers done the deal with well paid mangers in the voluntary sector and the commissioning team.If so, it’s absolutely shameful by Loudon.

      Through ForArgyl, I again challenge Sally Loudon, Douglas Hendry, or Jim Robb (Adult Care)to a proper consultation in the Corran Halls with the appropriate councilors. True to form they have run away. Cowards!

      I would urge Councilor McCuish to order a review of these charges immediately. I am being charged 75% of my disposable income.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

    • Luck is always a useful component when engaged in government but I can assure Bob Chicken that her colleagues and friends are well aware of Anne Horn’s abilities and her suitability for this appountment.

      Apropos Mairi’s comment at #1 I suspect that Roddy is not banking on Mr Walsh’s support!

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  4. Oh yes, one more thing on the Social Care agenda. How about planning for returning the unique services of Neighbourhood Networks to our communities?

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  5. I think it is safe to say Education has been kept as to be concluded until after the result of today’s election. I don’t know Michael Breslin but, from what I have heard, he is the obvious candidate for the role.

    I thought George Freeman might by appointed as Deputy Leader due to his somewhat lengthy experience (sorry George!) within the Council however, that said, John Semple is a fine candidate for the job and I have no doubt he will support Roddy McCuish superbly.

    A number of other very sensible choices. Good to see George returning to the role of Housing Spokesperson. It was shamefully stripped of him and his knowledge in this area means he is comfortably the best man for the job.
    I am also very pleased to see James Robb as the Finance Spokesperson. He has proven he has a fine grasp of LG finances and it is unlikely that some of the financial errors made in the past two years will get by him as easily as they got by the previous administration (deliberately or otherwise).

    The staff liaison role, if the anecdotal (I put that in for Simon) evidence that ARSN has picked up over the past 18 months is anything to go by, is a very welcome and overdue idea. Dougie Philand is an ideal choice, approachable, very fair and a track record of putting the job before himself.

    Other choices which were no brainers based on previous experience and clearly communicated commitments are Anne Horn as the Adult’s Champion, Elaine Robertson as Carer’s champion and Louise Glen-Lee’s spokesperson role.
    All in all it would appear the right people have been selected for the right jobs and it is good to see that the majority of the deputies are new councillors – hopefully this aid in development and stand them in good stead for future roles

    Good luck to all of them.

    And as a last point – James as Chair of H&L Area Committee – fantastic! Cllr Dance always liked to lord over any position of authority she had, somewhat satisfying to see she has next to none now.

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  6. Delighted to see James Robb as Helensburgh and Lomond area chairman. First job: stop the CHORD destruction of Colquhoun Square. Second job: Take charge of the CHORD board.

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      • ALL CORD schemes throughout Argyll must be put into suspension and reviewed. In fact even the principles behind CORD needs looking into and a fresh alternative brought forward.

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        • This would be wise. Much of the programme is formless and in disarray. It has now lost a key member of staff, its Programme Coordinator. who is moving south to a new job.
          All in all, this has to be the right moment for executive intervention and reform – and no consultants. If council officers are not up to doing this themselves, they are not up to their jobs.

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      • And don’t let Vivien Dance anywhere near the Planning Committee in future! Her close links with property developers in Helensburgh make her unfit to serve on that committee in a proper way. Send her elsewhere!

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  7. Robert MacIntyre as Chair of Bute & Cowal Area Committee??

    Will he stay awake long enough to get past the round of “Good Mornings”

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  8. I suggest Argyll First change their group name to the more appropriate MONEY FIRST . Thirty pieces of silver to betray 305 years of successful Union .

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    • what a vindictive and narrow minded attitude. You may not agree with an individuals politics but you should at least respect their right to have another perspective than yours. At least Argyll First have the temerity to put aside any doctrinal differences for the benefit of the local community with a wish to at least improve and open up the Argyll and Bute Council functions that require serious attention. They also put their names to their comments and actions as do I. ITS A PITY YOU ARE NOT BRAVE ENOUGH to do similar. What have you got to hide?

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    • Islay for ever: No mention of the people and the land of SCOTLAND being sold out to the puppet prince william just for the protection of the engaylish

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        • Islay for ever
          Don’t class me with the Scottish nationalists, the SNP have sold us out just like the lords and lairds of old (look up salmond and agenda21 treaty of Rio) as for a “mask” sorry but I don’t wear one, I have no need of a king queen or Pope LOL as for “ugly racist anti engaylish” well that just has my sides splitting, guess the white settler English in Scotland have had a humour bypass my English business partners have always found the funny side to the “engaylish title or my favourite engerland (German queen)
          But guess Argyll has gone all PC on me since I was away working in England and Wales

          Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

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