Argyll and Bute health board concerned about lack of local autism strategy

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Concern has been raised about a lack of progress on a strategy for people with autism across Argyll and Bute.

But the chair of the area’s health and social care partnership (HSCP) insists that a draft for the programme is almost ready for feedback from the relevant groups.

Councillor Kieron Green, who took over as chairman of the HSCP’s integrated joint board earlier this year, was responding to a comment from SNP councillor Anne Horn at a meeting of the full council on April 18. Councillor Green’s report informed the council that a short life working group on the autism strategy continues to meet.

But Councillor Horn said: “The group has not met for a long time. Members have worked for 10 years to get this strategy in place. There is real concern among the autism community and there is no evidence that the council is being pro-active on this.

“Members of the strategic group’s board are not aware of what is happening, or even if there is still a strategic group. It is a real concern.”

Councillor Green replied: “As indicated, the strategy has reached a draft stage. I haven’t seen the draft but I have been told that the next step would be for it to go out to the appropriate groups for feedback.

“Last time I was informed that the group was still meeting. I went to a meeting back in September and I don’t know when it has met since.”

He had written in his report: “The short life working group for learning disabilities and autism continues to meet, with specific areas being looked at. Children and families staff will lead future meetings with adult services and education around transitions. Draft strategies for learning disabilities (Keys to Life) and autism have been written, with the autism draft now going to be taken out to consultation with appropriate groups.”

Councillor Horn also expressed frustration at the failure of attempts to merge Campbeltown Medical Centre and Kintyre Medical Group. The HSCP, according to Councillor Green’s report, will now advertise the medical group as an independent practice.

Councillor Horn said: “I would also like to raise the issue of how disappointing it was that after four and a half years of non-stop negotiation, to find there has been no progress whatsoever on the Kintyre Medical Group.

“There has been no information except to go back to the beginning. The staff have been absolutely amazing, working under difficult circumstances, and I would like to acknowledge that.

“But it is still concerning for communities in Kintyre, Southend and Gigha.”

Councillor Green responded: “I share your disappointment. The direction of the health and social care partnership has been to encourage GPs to work together to deliver a great variety of services and to ensure support is available for GPs.

“We hope to find a way forward, not just in Kintyre, but in other areas as well.”