OUR Community Council’s largest online gathering yet saw the recently announced decision to repurpose the Invercarron Resource Centre for the Elderly into a vaccination clinic come under fire.
In 2017, as part of the commitment to reduce GP workload, the Scottish Government and Scottish General Practitioners Committee agreed vaccinations would move away from GP delivery to NHS Board delivery through dedicated teams.
This means, by March 2022, Aberdeenshire Health and Social Care Partnership, AHSCP, must co-ordinate the delivery of all vaccinations except travel.
Business services manager Kathy Davidson told last night’s emergency meeting of Stonehaven and District Council a vaccination clinic was needed to service the town and the surrounding area.
She said: ”We are looking at having 22,000 people coming through for vaccinations. The Invercarron Resource Centre offers space for this, for flow through, booths and a post vaccination area.”
While owned by Aberdeenshire Council, the Invercarron is operated by AHSCP, who pay all its bills. Their staff who were based there have already been moved to the recently refurbished Viewmount offices.
Ms Davidson added: ”This venue provides the best use of public funds, and we have already budgeted for its use.
”There is the risk we don’t have a vaccination centre in Stonehaven at all, in which case the closest place to go to would be Banchory.”
Lack of Parking
One member of the public attending the meeting said she had been a volunteer at our Covid-19 vaccination clinic, where they could see up to 500 people each day.
”It seems to me like an ill-considered suggestion,” she said.
”The lack of parking is going to be a big problem. I also think the entrance to the centre itself does not allow easy access around the centre, which it must have for social distancing.”
Meanwhile Val Cadd, who has volunteered at the Invercarron, said the five parking spaces would diminish to three when used as disabled parking bays.
Jim Stephen echoed the concerns with parking and said a review of the centre should have been done and taken into consideration.
”I think everybody here needs to have an understanding of the venue,” he said. ” You haven’t even done a study on the parking.”
Mr Stephen later expressed his anger at the loss of an amenity for the town.
”Stonehaven has a history of having its assets taken away, like the Mackie Pool,” he said.
Loss of centre built for our elderly residents
Interim partnership manager Janine Howie gave a report on activities at the Invercarron before Covid including a day care service two days each week, Alzheimers care for one day and a mental health carers support group – along with the use by community groups such as the Mearns Coastal Healthy Living Group who ran a lunch club.
Ms Howie said people now wanted their service in different, individual ways – and only three people wanted to use their services. She had been in the process of requesting a review of the centre.
Ian Hunter said: ”The Invercarron opened in the 90s when there was a really enthusiastic group of older people in the town with amazing vitality, who wanted to run the building themselves.
”If that vitality has been lost then it is down to the way it is being run. If that group were here, there is no way you could take away that building.”
Kay Wood said her main concern was with people’s welfare and with social isolation and loneliness.
She said: ”This is getting totally ignored in all this. What supprt are they going to give to help all these groups get over Covid? The Health and Social Care Partnership does not seem to care about social isolation.”
Steve McQueen said he too had concerns for those missing out.
He added: ”it seems to me that is is a done deal and we are wasting our time trying.”
Councillors Agnew, Dickinson and Robertson were all present at the meeting. Cllr Robertson summed up their mutual concerns about the lack of parking and the lack of a public review.
He said: ”Like my fellow councillors there is a degree of concern that the impact assessment does not appear to have been done in a way that is transparent to the community.”
And Mr Robertson, who sits on the Integration Joint Board overseeing AHSCP, asked that the use of the Invercarron might be a temporary move and not a fait accomplis. He asked that councillors be involved going forward.
AHSCP has a legal duty to involve people and communities in the planning of
services as set out in legislation. In recognition of this statutory duty,
engagement was identified as a strategic priority in AHSCP’s Strategic Plan 2020-2025.REPORT TO ABERDEENSHIRE INTEGRATION JOINT BOARD 21 JULY 2021
David Lawman, who chaired the meeting, said: ”My view is, other than the people whose job it is to create a vaccination centre, no-one is jumping up and down to say this is the best solution.
”I think the feeling is it is a done deal. As a community we are not being considered.”
A letter of protest to be sent
It was decided a letter should be sent to Aberdeenshire Council to make sure ‘this breakdown in the process does not happen again’.
Ian Hunter said: ”We are not talked to and not consulted with.”