NOTEBOOK: IT’S CHAOS AS SCOTLAND STRUGGLES TO COPE WITH COVID

NOTEBOOK by BILL HEANEY

Some people tell me I am too hard on West Dunbartonshire Council. That what I have to say in my column does not reflect the actuality of the situation locally.

Constant complaints from taxpayers on social media tell me however that the number of complaints about council services stack up to one word,  inefficiency, and often on a grand scale.

That remark last week from a member of the Council management team in one of his reports to a committee made me smile, but it was no laughing matter.

He told the poor souls (is it any wonder they want to keep everything secret from us?) who have to pay him around £80,000 a year for his advice that he was pleased the council received so many complaints about what they do.

If they didn’t, he said, the council staff would have no experience of how to deal with them.

That’s a joke straight out of 10 Downing Street where Dominic Cummings told his boss he only took his wife on a 25-mile drive to Barnard Castle during lockdown to check that his eyesight was OK to enable him to drive back to London. Eh?

No wonder the country’s in the state it’s in if PM Boris Johnston could find no one better than Cummings to be his top special adviser.

Cummings and Cain brought chaos to Westminster. You know the story.

Ministerial advisers are an enigma. I should know since I used to be one. They are usually only as safe in their jobs as the Minister they are working for.

So, that lot having taken up their filing boxes and walked out the front door gives hope to the rest of us that Boris may yet follow  them up to the taxi rank in Whitehall.

I live in hope that we may soon see a reprise of this inglorious episode in microcosm in West Dunbartonshire.

Now that the chaos within the Council offices has spilled out on to Church Street in the form of another management shake-up and a run on golden parachutes has taken place, it would be wonderful to witness Cllr Jonathan McColl, leader of the basket case SNP administration, following them.

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Why is this happening, you may well ask, although I believe there are many reasons which have already been extensively talked and written about in this community.

Great Matt cartoon, as usual, in The Daily Telegraph. Hat tip to Donald Fullarton

The exasperation of people who have to deal with local government is reflected in this exchange of posts: “If there is one thing that COVID has highlighted it is the total inefficiency of some of our institutions.

I arrived home last month – Thursday Oct 15 – to find a letter from Public Health Scotland/ NHS/Lanarkshire Health Board – inviting me for a flu jab. The only problem was the appointment, which was for the day before.

I called them and got an appointment for the following Monday at 4pm. I asked for a further appointment for Alan [her husband] but they had no slots, it was too busy, although the woman promised me she would call back with one. She didn’t.

“On Monday a letter arrived for Alan as we were leaving to do the shopping. It was his appointment – in 15 minutes’ time.
“We went down to the venue, the town hall, and Alan went in and got his jab. When he came out he told me I should just go in instead of waiting until later because it was deserted.
“So I did and told them about my 4pm appointment. They couldn’t find me but ushered me through and there were about a dozen nurses at six stations – and three patients including me. They took all my details and I got my jab.
“Today, four weeks later, I got another appointment letter for my flu jab. It is at the end of this month, more than six weeks after I was actually vaccinated.
“If this is a dry run for the roll-out of the COVID vaccine,  am I right to be worried?”
There were more responses in the same vein.  One man said: “I had a similar experience (20 minutes notice) and had to wait more than 3 weeks for another appointment, because the ‘helpline’ was constantly engaged. Thankfully, my good friend Kate  was on hand to take me to my rescheduled appointment. As you say, it doesn’t bode well for the COVID vaccine roll-out.”
And another man said: “I sympathise. I’ve had three different letters giving me three different appointments for the jab at two different locations. I got the damn thing done by phoning the local pharmacy and being sent to a community centre in the village. In and out in about seven or eight minutes.”
Penultimate word from a woman who writes novels and who assures me this wasn’t fiction: “Much the same here. Waited so long for a letter I just turned up on spec at the town hall and got it in the spot. Then the later arrived four weeks later. Tried phoning them but no reply.”
Final word: “The whole set-up is chaotic. I took a call from my doctor to get round there pronto. I said what about my wife? Scotland’s Deputy Medical Officer is piping out information that people in the same house as previously shielding folk have to get it also. They never knew anything about that.
“My wife had to go on and argue the toss with them and was told she would have to visit a pharmacy. [We got the] same bullshit there trying to convince people who are meant to know what they’re doing. The left hand doesn’t know what the right hand is doing.”
Is it any wonder then that Health Minister Jeane Freeman is looking as fed up as she does in this brilliant picture which shows her face tripping her? Is she looking forward to her retirement in May? You bet she is. Bring it on.

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