I must first thank members for their support during the past year. In particular, I am most grateful to Malcolm Allan and James Sandeman.   Malcolm for taking the minutes when our secretary had been unable to attend, and James for his excellent notes taken during our meetings with the Cabinet Secretary for Health and Well-being.  Following on the very welcome decision of the Cabinet Secretary to accept the conclusions of independent scrutiny panels, and  to implement the retention of accident and emergency departments at Monklands and Ayr hospitals, the focus has been on the situation at the Vale of Leven hospital in Alexandria.

Greater Glasgow and Clyde Health Board initially decided not to accept the recommendation of the scrutiny panel appointed by the Cabinet Secretary, but she has asked them to review their decision. The Health Board’s intention was to move unscheduled medical admissions from Alexandria to Paisley and also to transfer acute mental health services to Gartnavel Royal Hospital in Glasgow. An extensive consultation process has just been completed and the outcome is awaited.

A significant outbreak of Clostridium difficile at the Vale of Leven Hospital, associated with 18 deaths, has resulted in major infrastructure improvements within the hospital and also the introduction of national guidelines in relation to hospital acquired infections. A very recent press report has commented upon the favourable results of a recent inspection.Several consultation documents in relation to health have  been issued by the Scottish government.These have included a Bill to allow the election of health board members, a patient’s rights Bill, and a Bill to prevent private contractors bidding for general practitioner services. The Network has responded to these and individual member responses were made in relation to a proposal to abolish co-payment charges.

During the past year Network representatives have met with the Cabinet Secretary for Health and Well-being on two occasions. Details of the topics discussed are available in the minutes on the website. There is however considerable concern in relation to the lack of information that the Acute Services Monitoring groups both North and South of the City of Glasgow are receiving in order to fulfil their function. This is particularly worrying in view of the fact that these ambulatory care and diagnostic units will shortly be handed over by the contractors. I am also aware that medical staff are similarly concerned about the facilities and services to be provided in these new buildings.

In September 2008 the Scotland Patients Association was re-launched at the Scottish Parliament , and the Network was invited to participate in this event. Malcolm Allan and  I manned a stall publicising the activities of our organisation.During the past year there has perhaps been less press activity in relation to health affairs and Malcolm has outlined the activities in his media report.Together with Mrs Leigh Smith, Chairperson of the Scottish melanoma group, I met with Jonathan Best, Director of Acute Regional Services, Greater Glasgow and Clyde concerning problems relating to the perceived over- centralisation of chemotherapy in the Beatson oncology unit. There was also the anomaly that chemotherapy was going to be offered in the new ACAD at the Victoria but not on the Stobhill campus. An assurance was given that this would be examined and there was a strong likelihood that a nurse led service will become available at Stobhill.

I attended the Annual General Meeting of the National Health Service Consultants Association in Liverpool and reported on the activities of our group. We are extremely fortunate in Scotland to have a separate National Health Service Act and a government in power which supports the founding principles of the NHS.We look forward to progressing the aims of the Network in the coming year.

Dr.Robert L.C. Cumming

Chairman, Scottish Health Campaigns Network