SHCN Chairman’s Report


It has been an eventful year for the Network.

Unfortunately Robert remains hors de combat and everyone hopes he will soon be back to his old self.

We have had a change of Secretary for Health this session and I wrote to thank Nicola for her working with us and to Alex Neil welcoming him and the prospect of working with him.


Local Health Concern (Fife) and the Scottish Patients Association decided to leave the Network and the changing membership meant that we had to consider whether the Network had a long term future. It was agreed that we should re-orientate towards fuller engagement  with communities of interest on  specific topics or in particular locations.


To see if this would work we identified he topics of outpatient chemotherapy for Stobhill, Stroke Care Standards and Mental  Health Care in Argyll. We also decided to approach community councils to see if there were any who might be interested in joining us.

The intention was to explore the possibility of engaging relevant existing organisations or fostering a level of local activism sufficient to evoke a positive response from the relevant Board.


In the event, the outcome for the Stobhill exercise has been unsatisfactory. There was no systematic engagement of the local community and the contact with NHS GG&C focussed on the evidential base for the decision to withdraw services. The latter was more robust than the initial  letters had indicated and could not be gainsaid in the present environment.

The Chest Heart and Stroke Association of Scotland was approached to investigate what they were doing to assess quality of care. Discussion with them revealed that they already do, are committed to improving such assessment and openly providing such information. They also they have a development programme to train members of the public how to be effective contributors to service redesign. Given the level of development and resources of the charity, SHCN would be presumptuous to seek to influence it in other than minor matters.

Regarding Mental Health Services, there is local interest but it is, as yet, not organised.


Some Community Councils responded to the requests by James Sandeman and Ken Barr and attended our last meeting. While a positive response could be seen as a hopeful development, there are concerns about the long term viability of such councils however they do seem to comprise a possible constituency for the Network.


As acting Chairman I am of the firm view that the need for the Network to be based in communities – however defined – requires a Chair with more knowledge and experience than I of community engagement.  Therefore I intend to demit office at the AGM. I have enjoyed working with so many able, admirable and pleasant colleagues and thank everyone for their help, friendship and support.


I am particularly indebted to Malcolm Allan, our Secretary. who has been an unfailing, uncomplaining tower of strength who provided continuity and effective support throughout disconcerting times. I also must acknowledge the sterling service the Network has had over the years from Lambert Sinclair, our Treasurer. I have had the pleasure and privilege of working with Lambert from the inception of the organisation. He is the exemplification of the good-humoured canny Scotsman in whose hands money and confidences are entirely to be trusted. He has, and richly deserves, our grateful thanks and best wishes for the years to come.


George Venters, Acting Chairman, Scottish Health Campaigns Network.

29th January 2013.