Community council “ignored” by health officials

editorial image

HEALTH representatives in Carrick are ignoring the concerns of our citizens, claim snubbed community councillors.

Repeated lack of response from hospital authorities and continuing no-shows from ambulance service officials has led Girvan Community Council chairman Ken Johnstone to believe he and his colleagues are being fobbed off by health managers.

Five months since the row over parking at Girvan Community Hospital began, Mr Johnstone last week again lamented the lack of a response from hospital authorities to a letter addressed to both GP practices and sent following December’s meeting.

The community council had taken up the issue after Girvan resident Ivan Komiski lodged concerns over the lack of appropriate parking for disabled patients in the autumn.

Mr Komiski, 72, believes the coned-off area durectly in front of the building entrance should be used for disabled parking, while the current doctors’ parking should replace what is presently reserved parking for blue badge holders on the far side of the hospital’s front car park, near the pedestrian path.

“It is causing people pain and suffering and you only have to observe the disabled people coming in and out to see that,” he said.

And at last week’s meeting his argument was backed by community councillor Cathie Collins, a former nurse, who said she had been forced to take an extra person with her to the Bridgemill hospital site when attending with elderly relatives and friends to negotiate the parking facilities.

Girvan and South Carrick councillor Alec Clark also hit out on the issue, accusing hospital managers of punishing everyone for the actions of a few.

When the Carrick Gazette questioned the GP practices to whom Mr Johnstone had addressed his letter about their lack of response, the practice managers of both the Anderson, McCulloch and Ledger and the McMaster, Moore and Brooksbank surgeries claimed they had replied to Mr Johnstone informing him his letter had been passed on to Girvan Community Hospital’s estates department.

“As we are tenants and have no control over the parking facilities at Girvan Community Hospital, we had passed the letter from Girvan Community Council to the Estates Department via Royal Mail and had responded to Mr Johnstone explaining this on January 15 again via Royal Mail,” a spokesperson said.

However Mr Johnstone claimed he had never received such correspondance from either practice and has since penned a letter to John Burns, chief executive of NHS Ayrshire and Arran, condemning the “ludicrous” and “flawed” parking plan and suggesting a number of alternative arrangements.

But disabled parking facilities were not the only health-related lack of response to come under fire from Mr Johnstone last week as the community council’s guest chair remained unoccupied due to yet another no-show from the Scottish Ambulance Service.

Girvan Community Council has received numerous assurances from ambulance service managers that a representative would attend to talk through concerns over ambulance deployment and manning. But nearly a year on, there has been no sign.

Concerns over single-manning of ambulances in the Carrick area came to light last year, when it emerged a vacancy at Girvan Ambulance Station meant vehicles were

continued on page 2

being deployed with only one paramedic to both drive the ambulance and provide first response assistance. But Mr Johnstone claimed the community council had been seeking assurances from management long before then.

“They kept agreeing to come but nobody actually appeared,” he said. “It has been going on and on for months, and I feel that we are not being taken seriously. We are being ignored, and it’s just reassurance that we’re needing.”

A Scottish Ambulance Service spokesman said the local team had missed the latest community council meeting because of an internal mix up with the date.

“We are keen to meet the community council and explain in detail how ambulance cover in the area works. A letter of apology has already been sent to the Chair and we will attend the next meeting,” he said.