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By Mark Davey
Petition pressure and strong words from the Scottish government kicked threatened care cuts into the long grass.
On Wednesday Argyll and Bute Health and Social Care Partnership Integration Joint Board (IJB) met to discuss ways to bridge a funding gap of £13 million for 2018/19.
The turn round came after intense pressure from health minister Shona Robison who sent a damning letter to Aileen Morton, the leader of Argyll and Bute council and it has been circulated to councillors.
In addition, last week, an online petition aginst the proposed £13 million care cuts, raised by Councillors Donald Kelly and Dougie Philand quickly gained more than 1.000 signatures.
A paper version was distributed across Argyll, as facilities such as Campbeltown’s Woodlands Resource Centre appeared to be threatened.
Following the meeting, IJB chief officer, Christina West said: ‘An alternative motion was approved by the IJB, and this included removing some potential savings, noted the remaining budget gap and requested officers to develop alternative savings proposals to be brought back in May.
‘In addition it also requested support from Argyll and Bute Council, NHS Highland and Scottish Government for the delivery of the Strategic Plan and changes required to achieve our shared outcomes.
‘The decision by the IJB to reject these proposals and not approve a balanced budget means that further work is required.
‘HSCP officers will continue to engage and work with our staff, third and independent sectors, trade unions, our funding partners and our communities to develop plans to deliver savings for the organisation.
‘I am also aware that the speculation over the proposals has been unsettling for our staff, communities and stakeholders and I regret the upset, concern and anxiety that this has caused.
‘A further paper will be brought to the IJB at its next meeting on the 30th May.’
Mr Kelly said: ‘Places like Woodlands and the staff we have in Kintyre are partly there because we fought so hard in the past.
‘As local councillors we have absolutely no say on decisions which affect people in our community.
‘The only people who can vote are the four councillors and four NHS members who constitute the IJB board.’
In a letter published in full on page six, Argyll and Bute MSP Michael Russell said: ‘The IJB was, of course, intending to go on hiding the true situation this week with their plan for a private meeting. Courageous leaks to the press put paid to that.’
Councillor Donald Kelly with a copy of the petition which appeared across Argyll and Bute. 25_c13donaldkelly01_ijb_petition