Anger and frustration as health forum is cancelled for second time

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Members of the public have been left angry and frustrated after the Argyll and Bute Health and Care Forum (HCF) was cancelled for the second time in six months.

The meeting has now been re-scheduled for Tuesday April 24 to allow the public to have have their say on health cuts.

The Argyllshire Advertiser previously reported on Health and Social Care Partnership (HSCP) plans to close Lochgilphead Resource Centre and make cuts to other vital community services which would potentially save £13million.

The forum is widely recognised as the community’s link to HSCP bosses.

A quote on the front of HCF information leaflets says: ‘we will listen to you, learn from your experience and use this insight to guide what we do’.

Stuart White from Minard, who had been planning to attend the event, said he was frustrated the meeting had been cancelled at such short notice: ‘The whole issue is just too ridiculous for words.

‘The final decision on cuts is supposed to be made in May and with the preliminary meeting now re-scheduled, I do not think this is enough time for everyone to give their view.

‘We deserve to have our say on these cuts, which could put a huge amount of pressure on the voluntary sector.’

Following the cancellation, health bosses pencilled in the next meeting for June.

But this left many members of the community outraged as a June date meant they would not be able to have a say or ask questions on proposed cuts before the May deadline set by the HSCP’s governing body, the Integrated Joint Board.

Barabel McKay, vice chairwoman of the HCF, said she had not been notified of any plans to cancel the meeting.

She said: ‘I am appalled the second meeting in six months was cancelled with the next date originally set as June.

‘Now that the meeting has been re-scheduled to April 24, I hope those who had planned to attend are still able to do so and that the cancellation has not affected public confidence in the partnership.’

Councillor Dougie Philand also highlighted his concerns at a recent Lochgilphead Community Council meeting, saying the public deserved to have their concerns heard.

He said: ‘Concerns had previously been expressed at the cancellation of the Health and Care Forum meeting, but I am delighted the concerns have been listened to and a meeting is being scheduled for April 24.

‘I make the plea that members of the public do attend, with the venue and time still to be notified.’

An NHS Highland spokesperson said: ‘We apologise to all concerned for the fact the Mid Argyll Health and Care Forum meeting was cancelled at short notice.

‘We are currently arranging a new date and all members will be notified accordingly.’