Local Health Board headquarters at Gartnavel Hospital in Glasgow.
NOTEBOOK by BILL HEANEY
Two posts are up for grabs on the local Health Board, Greater Glasgow and Clyde, which covers West Dunbartonshire.
They are described in an advertisement published today as “challenging, rewarding and worthwhile opportunities that will take up around 8 hours a week and last for up to four years in the first instance.
“In return, you will be paid £8,842 a year”.
The successful applicants, usually place-men or people favoured by the political party currently in power, such as candidates who have been unseated at elections, “will also get reasonable travel and subsistence costs, dependent carer expenses and support to help you carry out your duties.”
The advert, quite rightly, states that “the NHS impacts on everyone’s lives at one time or another and this could be your chance to get involved in improving, sustaining and protecting the health of the local population.”
When one considers all that is happening in the health service locally, from the handling of the coronavirus pandemic to the many faults in the “showpiece” £842 million and counting Queen Elizabeth University Hospital and Royal Children’s Hospital to the sword of Damocles hanging over Vale of Leven District General Hospital, these are not posts for the faint-hearted in our community.
And I haven’t even mentioned yet the scandal of moving patients who have contracted the possibly fatal Covid-19 coronavirus bug out of hospital to be placed in care homes and residential homes for the elderly, putting their lives at risk.
Yet at the moment these health board posts are occupied by two councillors who appear to be struck silent about the plight we find ourselves in as we sink deeper into the Covid crisis and consequences for patients on lengthy waiting lists for treatment for other serious diseases, including cancer.
All this is puzzling however. We never hear a cheep from our two healthcare representatives, West Dunbartonshire Council leader Jonathan McColl and his SNP colleagues Marie McNair, who was formerly in the Labour Party and is chair of the council’s health and social care committee.
Well, that’s not quite accurate. McColl came out and defended himself when the local MSP, Jackie Baillie, pictured left, accused him of dragging his feet over his Health Board duties.
She was deeply concerned that he wasn’t making the views of constituents known with sufficient emphasis in regard to the closure threats at the Vale and his attendance record at the board meetings, for which he receives almost £9,000 a year plus expenses, was poor.
Cllr McColl’s excuse was that he considered that paperwork he had to do for his council work was more important than anything on the Health Board agenda.
As for Cllr Marie McNair, who is to be the SNP candidate to succeed Gil Paterson in Clydebank at the Scottish parliamentary elections next May, she is the chair – sometimes – of the Health and Social Care Committee at West Dunbartonshire Council.
The only day I ever attended that committee, I could not make head nor tail of what was going on and I have been covering local government committees (and local council committees, which have met under various guises) for nearly 60 (yes, sixty) years now.
Suffice it to say that Ms McNair or her deputy Donald MacLeod, an unelected member of the council who is an accountant who used to be employed by Police Scotland, was in charge of this important committee when so many people died in our local care homes at the beginning of the pandemic.
No one has yet come out from under the Council bed – it must be kingsize, surely? – to explain the full circumstances of these tragic deaths before which we were assured that everything was in order and that the local authorities in Scotland were well placed to cope with any emergency which might come their way.
SNP councillors Marie McNair and Jonathan McColl.
As for Cllr McNair putting the needs of the electorate first, this was her austerity agenda back in May 2018:
The Clydebank Post reported that children, the disabled and the elderly were just some of those hit by cuts agreed at a meeting of West Dunbartonshire Health and Social Care Partnership (HSCP) last Wednesday.
Despite public protests outside Clydebank Town Hall, the partnership’s chair, Councillor Marie McNair, put forward a motion recommending the approval of 20 cost-cutting measures – totalling £619,072 for health care and £596,703 for social care – as the HSCP looks to bring an overspend of more than £1 million under control.
Cuts such as removing night shift cover in sheltered housing complexes had been described by members of the public in a consultation as “unsafe” and “detrimental” to residents.
The HSCP agreed to increase the charge for blue badges, from just over £3 for three years to £20 for the same period; to review staffing numbers in mental health services and the social work team within adult care; and to reduce community-based support to children, young people and families.
In the motion, Cllr McNair recognised the budget was “challenging” and said: “It attempts to take a strategic approach to our budget saving and sets us on track to the best financial stability we can achieve.
I trust Democrat readers are getting the picture here. These posts will not be filled by election, which is in the undemocratic, if not anti-democratic, way West Dunbartonshire Council operates.
If you are a good person, well-educated and articulate and with the good health and well-being of the community at heart and real concern about the plight the NHS now finds itself in here, then please apply for one of these two posts.
The advert says nothing about these attributes but emphasises that they are “looking for individuals who can specifically bring financial governance experience or clinical experience, ideally in a primary care setting”.
However, if you are not a member of the SNP, which is in power at both national and local level, do not expect to be given the call to serve. In this case, it will be the usual not what you know but who you know that will get you the job.
Just in case you are tempted to apply, the details are contained in the advertisement below: