S.H.C.N. Chairman’s Annual Report 2009 – 2010

Overall this has been a relatively quiet year on the medico-political scene in Scotland.

In the West of Scotland a reprieve for the remaining services on the Vale of Leven Hospital campus has been achieved. However, many problems still require resolution, but the situation is at least better than the total closure of acute services which had been proposed previously by Greater Glasgow and Clyde Health Board. It is disappointing that a prior proposal for an integrated care model between the hospital service and general practice has not been implemented. Adult psychiatric services are the subject of an ongoing review, and a monitoring group has been established to assess the overall implementation of the Vale of Leven proposals. It remains to be seen whether this monitoring function is real.

The experience of the North and South Glasgow monitoring groups in overseeing the implementation of the Acute Services Strategy Review in Glasgow has not been encouraging in this respect, and despite protests from both groups these have been discontinued by the Cabinet Secretary for Health. It was difficult to see their continuation in their existing form, because both chairmen indicated that they were unwilling to continue in office after the opening of the ambulatory care services at Stobhill Hospital and the Victoria Infirmary. The chairmen took the view that the opening of these facilities was the endpoint of their function, and not the completion of the review as envisaged in 2002. The suggested replacement bodies, namely the Area Clinical Forum for involvement of medical staff and the Patient Focus Public Involvement Framework for communities are not regarded as satisfactory substitutes.

Nationally, the Bill to democratise Health Boards has been passed and the pilot studies will take place in Fife and Dumfries & Galloway Health Boards. Elections to these health boards will take place by postal ballot, in June of this year. It is to be hoped that these pilots will prove successful in that there will be a good public response to the ballot and that the input to health board decisions will be more in keeping with public needs,rather than political dogma.

Incorporated into the recently passed anti-smoking legislation Bill was a repeal of the ability to allow external commercial bids for general medical services.This is in stark contrast to the situation in England where privatisation of all aspects of healthcare is prevalent.

Dr. Matthew Dunnigan and I both gave presentations to the annual conference of the National Health Service Consultants Association in London in October 2009 on different aspects  of the Scottish Health Service scene, and I have joined Dr. Dunnigan on the executive committee of the NHSCA.

There have been two meetings of Network members with Nicola Sturgeon, when the subjects discussed, included the involvement of the private sector in waiting list initiatives, the local provision of chemotherapy services , mental health in Lanarkshire,confidentiality of health records, hospice provision and pharmacy services. The services of James Sandeman in acting as notetaker for these proceedings is very much appreciated

The support of the membership for the aims and objectives of the Network is much appreciated. Without the locum secretarial services of Malcolm Allan in providing us with carefully prepared minutes of meetings and the competence of Lambert Sinclair in monitoring the financial affairs of the group the organisation would cease to exist.

Dr. Robert L.C. Cumming,

Chairman                                    February 2010