A new public voice for health and care in Mid Argyll

Group members and supporters, with Barabel McKay in the foreground, at the January meeting

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A year on from Argyll and Bute Health and Social Care Partnership (HSCP) withdrawing support and effectively cutting off communications with a community group, it has found a new energy.

The Health and Care Forum, set up to be a conduit for questions and concerns between the public and HSCP, struggled to be heard as health chiefs pursued ‘conversation cafes’ as a means of communication, with limited success to date.

After what was effectively an emergency meeting on January 18, the forum has now been rebranded as the Health and Care Group, with a renewed sense of purpose.

There will be continuity, as the formidable forum chairwoman Barabel McKay continues at the helm of the new group.

Barabel said: ‘What we did in the past was appreciated by staff and management. It was a leap of faith to decide to go it alone when our links with the HSCP were severed a year ago.’

After a three-hour meeting at the MS Centre in Lochgilphead, the Health and Care Group emerged, determined to have the voice of the public heard.

Barabel explained: ‘Just because we existed, people in crisis have made contact and been directed to agencies who could help. Others have brought to our attention needs for which answers do not yet exist.

‘That should be the way that services develop in the future, in a collaboration between the public and health and care providers.

‘We can no longer expect everything will be there just when we need it. We have to take an active part in the planning for our future, look out for ourselves and vulnerable others.’

Look out for suggestion boxes at public places in Mid Argyll. Any comments or suggestions will be noted, acted on or passed on to those responsible. They do not need to be signed.

‘Any concerns people wish to share will be heard with complete confidentiality,’ Barabel stressed.

Anyone who wishes to raise a health and care issue directly with the group can email barabelmck@gmail.com or speak to her in person.