Change to health services is ‘inevitable’

Councillor Gary Mulvaney.

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Change is inevitable in health services in Argyll and Bute, a councillor has warned, as the area’s health board prepares to set its budget for the year.

A consultation process has been launched by the Argyll and Bute Health and Social Care Partnership (HSCP), asking people in the area to explain their priorities as part of its budget-setting process.

But Argyll and Bute Council’s depute leader, Councillor Gary Mulvaney, a member of the HSCP’s integration joint board (IJB), warned that changes will have to be made because of the effects of Covid-19.

Councillor Mulvaney, who represents Helensburgh Central and is the council’s policy lead for strategic finance, also said that the effects of the pandemic are set to be around for ‘a considerable period of time’ and that a clear forward route must be established by the HSCP.

The consultation is open until Friday February 19, and the IJB will set the HSCP’s budget for the year at its next meeting on Wednesday March 24.

Councillor Mulvaney said: ‘We have a reasonable consultation that tries to pick up some of the essential elements of what we are trying to do.

‘It is always difficult in these consultations, because those asking don’t necessarily have all the information, while we have as board members.

‘They don’t see the budget monitoring strategic plan; they don’t see all the various information we get. Sometimes there is frustration to stop consulting and just to get on and do what we are supposed to.

‘But the responses we get from our communities are good. As board members, we need to be able to set that in context and there are some things in there people will find challenging.

‘That is just where we are – there are things that will be changing and have got to change. One thing Covid has taught us is that this will be around for a considerable period of time.

‘Things that have come from the pandemic will not just disappear in a matter of months and we have to change how we do things long-term.

‘Change can be difficult and our key thing is to map out the future to get people a very clear indication of what the future looks like.’

The consultation, available through Argyll and Bute Council’s website, also asks respondents what they view as the HSCP’s most important role.

To access the consultation, visit argyll-bute.gov.uk and click the rotating banner at the top of the homepage.