South Scotland MSP Colin Smyth has urged Dumfries and Galloway Health and Social Care Partnership to “work with the community to agree a joint way forward” over future provision of health and social care in the Esk Valley.

The MSP’s comments come after the Partnership failed to deliver on a  promise to develop a  business plan for a range of health and social services on a single site in Langholm including very sheltered housing, a bed based facility which would include residential and nursing care places, communal areas to be shared by very sheltered housing tenants and care home residents, day care in the communal areas, a therapy area for use by a range of services, central shared administration and a health centre within the development.  

The partnership’s Integrated Joint Board (IJB) agreed at their meeting on 29 November 2016 to approve the commissioning of the detailed business case proposal “by April 2017” but a report to a meeting of the board this week (28 September) simply asks the board to “approve plans to proceed with further development work for the provision of a new extra care scheme in the Esk Valley”, with previous commitments to develop “ a combined residential and nursing facility of between 22 to 26 beds ” watered down.

South Scotland MSP Colin Smyth, who has still to receive a reply to a letter he sent to the Health and Social Care Partnership’s Chief Operating officer Julie White in August urging the Partnership to come clean with local people over whether the plan for a care and nursing home has been ditched, believes the Partnership needs to do far more to gain the support of the community for their plans.

Colin Smyth said, “There is a lot of frustration in the Langholm area over the fact that the community were under the clear impression that a way forward had been agreed by the Health and Social Care partnership almost a year ago, namely to create a range of services on a single site including residential and nursing care places, but this now appears to have been ditched. The partnership claims that to be viable a residential and nursing care home needs to have 50 plus beds. That begs the question as to why they didn’t seem to know that when they agreed to consider the development of a 26 bed facility and why they now think that is case despite the lack of a business plan. It is unacceptable that members of the Joint Board agreed that business plan should be developed but this clear instruction to officers has been completely ignored. Understandably, many people in the local community think that the latest claims over the viability of a home are an excuse to ditch the plan due to cost cutting. Everyone appreciates that the NHS are under huge financial pressure due to the Government’s policy of austerity and they have to find massive cuts locally, but my fear is that by overpromising and under delivering the Partnership are simply alienating an already very patient but frustrated community.  It is vital that the Partnership gets a grip of this issue, stops the dithering and prevaricating and works with the community to agree a joint way forward.”

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