Board’s special measures an attempt to eradicate ‘catastrophic failings’
Former Health Minister Nicola Sturgeon and the £840 million super hospital.
By Bill Heaney
Recent events have shown that the SNP is incapable of running the health service at any level of government – national, regional or even local.
Special measures imposed on NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde by the Scottish government have been escalated amid ongoing concern over its performance.
The conflating of the regional board’s responsibilities with those of local authorities has been an unmitigated disaster.
Health and Social Care Partnerships simply haven’t worked and we have seen delegates attending meetings of this committee who looked entirely out of their depth.
The single member of the public who turned up for one meeting in Dumbarton said he could not make head nor tail of what was going on.
And that the Council communications department would not release to him any details about the background of the unelected chairperson, Allan Macleod, who confusingly switched roles with the SNP’s Cllr Marie McNair. She moved between being chairperson and vice-chairperson.
Health and Social Care partnership players – Unelected Allan Macleod, Chief Executive Joyce White, Council leader Jonathan McColl and Cllr Marie McNair, Vice chairperson. McColl is also a member of the Health Board.
Council leader Jonathan McColl and Chief Executive Joyce White, without any democratic mandate, told the £500,000 Communications Department not to comment.
The board (was it the HSC Partnership or both?) came under fire for removing Dr David Neilson, one of the most popular GPs at Dumbarton Health Centre and arrogantly refused to present a petition to allow him to stay on.
It didn’t matter that about 1,200 of Dr Neilson’s patients signed that petition, it was made clear the Board would not be looking at it.
There is a lacuna of a democratic deficit in the organisation and administration of public services in West Dunbartonshire.
The health board has faced criticism over its infection control procedures after the deaths of two children at the city’s largest hospital complex.
It was partly placed in Stage 4 special measures in November.
Struggling to cope, SNP Government Health Secretary Jeane Freeman has now extended these measures to cover the entire health board.
Ms Freeman and the health board both apologised in November to the parents of two young patients who died in 2017 in the Royal Hospital for Children, which is part of the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital (QEUH) campus.
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A five-stage scale is used in Scotland to show the level of oversight for stricken health boards, with a stage four ranking given to a board where there are “significant risks to delivery, quality, financial performance or safety” with “senior level external support required”.
Ms Freeman said the status will concentrate on scheduled care, unscheduled care, primary care out-of-hours, finance and culture and leadership.
The statistics for nearly every health service in West Dunbartonshire and South Argyll – that includes Helensburgh – are pathetic.
The Out of Hours Service at Vale of Leven Hospital, which is run by GPs is hardly ever open because of a shortage of GPs.
Ms Freeman has previously announced specific support for infection prevention and control, communications and engagement after saying there were “ongoing issues” at the hospitals.
Calum Campbell, chief executive of NHS Lanarkshire, has been appointed as a “turnaround director” at NHSGGC to provide an “increased level of scrutiny and intervention”, and will report to the Scottish government on the progress that has been made.
Ms Freeman said: “All of us, rightly, have high expectations of our NHS and I’m focused on improving performance and delivery across the system in order to provide the best care possible for the people of Scotland.
“In order to provide additional direction and support to NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde I have taken the decision to escalate the board as a whole to stage 4 of the Performance Escalation Framework.”
Jane Grant, Chief Executive, and John Brown, Chief Executive, who have been in charge during the time of “catastrophic failings” at the super hospital.
Three-year-old Mason Djemat, who was being treated for a rare genetic disease at the Royal Hospital for Children, died on 9 August 2017.
Milly Main, 10, died at the same hospital three weeks later while recovering from leukaemia treatment.
Both children were patients on a ward affected by water contamination, with their deaths emerging after Labour MSP Anas Sarwar was contacted by a whistleblower.
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Mr Sarwar, who has previously exposed problems at the QEUH, said: “This is a step in the right direction, and it is encouraging that Jeane Freeman has recognised the scale of the crisis at NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde.
“But the health board itself remains in complete denial of its catastrophic failings.
“It simply isn’t tenable for those in charge to remain in post. They have lost the trust of patients, families and the public.”
Meanwhile, the health secretary also announced additional steps to support NHS Highland and NHS Orkney.