Day centre closure suspended - for now

Thomson Court' centre is under threat of closure, replaced by an 'in-home' or 'in the community' befrienders-style alternative.
Thomson Court' centre is under threat of closure, replaced by an 'in-home' or 'in the community' befrienders-style alternative.

Plans to close the day centre at Thomson Court have been put on hold - for now - pending further consultation.

In a press release issued today, the Integrated Joint Board has agreed to convene a special meeting of the board in November to consider a pause in the redesign work.

If this pause is agreed, the IJB will undertake a three month engagement and involvement process with the local communities in Cowal and Bute followed by a two month period of formal staff consultation.

The outcome of this engagement exercise will then be considered by the IJB to inform its decision on the redesign of services within the Bute and Cowal Locality.

In the meantime senior managers have stopped the implementation of the redesign work in Struan Lodge and Thomson Court and will await the decision of the IJB at its special Board meeting in November.

In the last two months senior managers from the HSCP have also held a number of meetings with representatives from the Scottish Government and Argyll and Bute Council. These meetings were held to clarify the context in which the decision was made and explore the support (financial and engagement) that could be provided to the IJB which may allow it to pause the process.

Councillor Kieron Green, Chair of the Argyll and Bute Integration Joint Board, said: “The public concern in Cowal and Bute over the decision taken by the Integration Joint Board on June 22, 2016, is acknowledged. The IJB are committed to improving its engagement processes with the community going forward.

“In light of this concern and our recent discussions with the Scottish Government and Argyll and Bute Council, I will be convening a special meeting of the IJB in early November to consider pausing the implementation of the service redesigns in Struan Lodge and Thomson Court. In the interim senior managers have stopped the redesign work until the IJB makes a decision at the special meeting.”

Michael Russell, MSP, said: “[The] consultation will give time for local communities to make their views heard and put forward the information which should have been considered by the IJB before it decided on the closures.

“This is essentially the position that was sought by Cllr Macintyre and Strong, with support from the area committee, in early August. If the current administration of Argyll and Bute Council had subsequently backed it as requested we might have avoided a period of uncertainty which caused considerable distress.

“It would also have been helpful if the IJB, at elected member and officer level, had listened to public concern at that time instead of trying to steamroller the matter. A low point of that activity was the public meeting in Dunoon and the ridiculous power point presentation which addressed none of the community concerns.”

“I understand that the prime factor in persuading the IJB to think again now was the intervention of the Scottish Government. I had a conversation with the Health Secretary ten days ago, after our letter had been received, in which she indicated that the Scottish Government was concerned about the lack of consultation and the failure of the IJB to ensure that its actions were properly explained and fully supported by the community.

“I am sure our joint action was, therefore, effective and I hope that the IJB - and in particular its Chair and Chief Executive - have learnt lessons from this process including the need to work with communities rather than try to boss them about.”