Competent, locally sensitive and fully accountable management of local health services “essential

Local MSP Michael Russell has called on the Chair of the Argyll & Bute Health & Social Care Partnership to take urgent action to restore confidence in the body after a string of difficulties which culminated in weekend press reports of a crisis in caring in Oban and the surrounding areas.

Writing to Robin Creelman, Mr Russell said:

“Press reports at the weekend indicated yet another crisis in the delivery of health and social care in Argyll & Bute.  If the reports are true they suggest that delivery of care in the Oban area is not being undertaken according to the standards expected and that the gaps are resulting in delays in delivering essential services to vulnerable people.

 These reports follow public concern about a reduction in services available at Oban Hospital, the refusal of your staff to even discuss those issues with concerned local representatives, the row over dementia support in Campbeltown which took repeated meetings to set right, the difficulties with Trust Housing, the impasse over emergency and GP services on Mull and the Struan Lodge debacle where closure was announced without any consultation. 

 All these issues – and more – have led me to believe that the public, like myself, has lost confidence in the current management and governance of the HSCP and accordingly urgent steps must be taken to restore that confidence

 However just more commitment to further “consultation” will not be enough. The time for that has passed. It is now imperative that change is made that results in competent, locally sensitive and fully accountable management of our essential health services.”

SNP MSP Michael Russell is encouraging all expectant mothers in Argyll and Bute, whose babies are due on or after 15 August 2017, to register for a baby box at their next midwife appointment.

These boxes, containing various essential items for a child’s first weeks and months, signal the SNP Government’s commitment to ensuring that every child in Scotland, regardless of their circumstances, should get the best start in life.

This comes on top of the SNP Government using new powers to create new Maternity and Early Years’ Allowances, the Best Start Grant, which provides expectant mothers on low incomes with £600 for their first child, £300 for second and subsequent children and a further £250 grant when their child starts nursery, and £250 again when they start school.

Argyll and Bute MSP Michael Russell said:

 “The Scottish Government is proudly gifting a Baby Box to every child in Scotland to help tackle deprivation, improve health and support parents – just one part of our determination to ensure that every child has an equal start in life.

“For mothers in Argyll and Bute looking forward to welcoming a new born into the world on or after 15th August this summer, all they need to do to be gifted a Baby Box is apply through their midwife in advance, supplying their preferred delivery address.

“The Baby Boxes are full of useful items such as books, clothes, blankets, a bath towel, a changing mat, a bib and a thermometer, while also providing a safe space for babies to sleep near their parents, to promote bonding and early attachment, and send a signal that every child, regardless their background, matters.

“And with the new powers coming to Scotland, the SNP Government will also provide targeted support of a significantly higher level than elsewhere in the UK, to help low income families via our new Maternity and Early Years’ Allowances- replacing the UK Sure Start grant with our Best Start Grant.

“The new Best Start Grant will be introduced in 2019.”



Argyll and Bute MSP Michael Russell has raised concerns about the progress of planned mental health unit in Argyll and Bute, following an announcement made by NHS Highland last Thursday (9th July) that the project has stalled at the early stages of the tendering process.

Proposals for the mental health unit, which is due to replace the mental health ward of Argyll and Bute Hospital in Lochgilphead, has been rejected at stage 1. The rejection means that a review of the application are now required, which could lead to a delay of up to 6 months. This additional delay comes on the back of previous announcements that completion of the unit will take place in late 2017, 5 years later than originally planned.

Commenting on the decision, Mr Russell said:

“I am concerned that the proposed mental health unit in Lochgilphead will suffer from further delays in the coming weeks. I have worked with staff and the community over the past few years to ensure that the new unit meets their needs, and they have already suffered unacceptable delays in the delivery of this vital facility.

“This latest announcement by NHS Highland brings much uncertainty for service users and staff in Argyll, putting previous commitments made by the Scottish Government and NHS Highland at risk. The current facility has been deemed unsuitable for meeting modern standards of patient care, and it is therefore imperative that the new mental health unit is operational as soon as possible.

“I will be writing to the Cabinet Secretary for Health to seek assurances that the new Mid Argyll mental health unit will go ahead as promised and that she will assist in getting it back on track.”

Argyll & Bute MSP Michael Russell has welcomed new statistics showing a significant increase in NHS staff in the Highlands  and in doing so has paid tribute to the hard work and dedication of local NHS staff.

The figures published this week show that the  total number of Whole Time Equivalent (WTE) staff in the NHS in the Highlands has grown by 21.9%   since the SNP came into office in 2007.  This means that there has been an increase of almost 1500  NHS staff members in the Highlands in the last 8 years and the overall total of 8080 is an all time record.     NHS staff numbers in Scotland as a whole are also now standing at a record high.

A recent Survation poll has found that the SNP is the party which people most trust with the NHS – by a factor of more than two-to-one over Labour.

Commenting, Michael Russell said:

 “Our local NHS staff in Argyll & Bute  do an incredible job for which we should all be thankful  and so these figures showing that there are even more NHS staff right across the Highlands are very welcome.

 The SNP’s commitment to our health service is second to none and is delivering real results for this area .  The Scottish Government is also going on investing and frontline spending on the Scottish NHS will  shortly  be above £12bn for the first time ever.

More can be done however, and I am delighted that the Health Secretary Shona Robison will shortly be visiting Argyll to talk to local people about what is being delivered and what they still want to see done, particularly on the islands. “

Argyll and Bute MSP Michael Russell  has welcomed new statistics showing the strong performance of Accident and Emergency units in the Highlands.

The figures published on Tuesday 3rd March  (the first release of weekly figures as promised by the First Minister recently) show that 95.2 per cent of patients in A&E were treated within four hours in the Highlands – just exceeding  the Scottish Government’s interim target of 95 per cent despite winter pressures and severe  weather during the period in question.

Commenting, Mr Russell  said:

“These very positive figures for the Highlands showing a strong performance in our A&E units are first and foremost  a tribute to the hard-working NHS staff who do such vital work in our hospitals.

“The Scottish Government is passionately committed to Scotland’s NHS.  We are investing an additional £383m in front-line health spending in 2015/16, which means that Scottish health spending will  be above £12bn for the first time ever.

These waiting time figures prove that  investment to date  is delivering real progress in Argyll & Bute and future investment will produce an even better service.

“But there is always more which can be done.  Local people can be assured that there will be, and is  absolutely no complacency with regard to health provision or any other public service.    

The Scottish Government is committed to doing everything it can to support staff, enhance the patient experience and protect and improve the NHS.”