Baillie exposes secrecy strategy over plans for local health services

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Jackie Baillie MSP

By Bill Heaney

Jackie Baillie, MSP for Dumbarton and Lomond, is calling on NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde  to hold health board wide consultations with service users before decisions on service changes are made as part of the Moving Forward Together programme.

This call comes following a Freedom of Information request by Jackie Baillie that highlighted the health boards unwillingness to be transparent about meetings that it has held with the Scottish Health Council.

Freedom of Information requests is an expensive, time consuming process designed to extract information from public bodies such as West Dunbartonshire Council and the Health Board which they are reluctant to release and would rather were kept secret.

The Democrat has been told this is the only way they should ask questions of the Council in order to delay and frustrate our inquiries into Council affairs.

The FOI response from NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde stated that “no meetings have been held with the Scottish Health Council about consultation on Moving Forward Together.”

Meetings between NHS GGC and the SHC were deemed “informal” and “as such it was agreed that a formal agenda and minute would not be produced.”

However, the identical FOI Request was also sent to the Scottish Health Council. The response from the Scottish Health Council revealed that at least seven meetings had taken place between NHS GGC and the SHC and minutes had been taken showing that Moving Forward Together was discussed. Minutes highlighted discussions on how the two organisations need to work together to improve engagement and future consultation on Moving Forward Together. 

This blatant unwillingness to be open with the public, is the latest in a series of events which demonstrates the secrecy and lack of transparency from the health board about their future plans for local health services.

Just last year, the health board was intent on removing breast cancer services from the Vale, until Jackie Baillie discovered that there was no consultation with any women from the area. At the time 13 women were consulted about the changes and all of them came from Paisley.                                               

Jackie Baillie MSP said: “It is increasingly clear that NHS Greater Glasgow & Clyde want to keep members of the public in the dark about their future plans for the Vale hospital and local health services. They don’t even want to tell us about their meetings with the Scottish Health Council to talk about Moving Forward Together.

“Time and time again, the health board have dodged questions, and tried to impose changes to local services without first consulting the community. We have seen that last year with their proposals to remove breast cancer services from the Vale. Thank goodness the Scottish Health Council is clearly open and willing to ensure that the local communities views are taken on board with any service change.

“The Cabinet Secretary for Health, along with Health Board chiefs must act immediately to ensure that there is consultation with all of the local community before decisions are made. Local people deserve nothing less.”

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