From Aberdeenshire Council’s communications team –
Aberdeenshire Council’s Communities Committee has supported procurement arrangements that will allow plans for a vaccination centre in Stonehaven to progress.
The decision was made during a special meeting of the committee this afternoon (Fri, Mar 11), when a legally-binding direction from the Integration Joint Board (IJB) to progress matters was supported.
The decision will allow the Aberdeenshire Health & Social Care Partnership (HSCP) to provide a vaccination service at the Invercarron Resource Centre on Low Wood Road.
The direction from the IJB was given under special urgency powers due to time-limitations on the availability of funding for the project and the need to provide a longer-term vaccination site for the Kincardine and Mearns area.
The decision was made by Communities Committee following an earlier refusal to approve the procurement plan by the Kincardine and Mearns Area Committee.
A ‘historical lack of consultation’
Having requested to speak at the meeting, Stonehaven councillor Wendy Agnew told the committee she had been left disappointed by what she described as ‘a historical lack of consultation’ between the Partnership and local councillors and the community council over the plans.
During debate, councillors sought clarity on the cost, extent and timescale of the proposed repurposing works for the centre, the impact the loss of a vaccination centre would have on Kincardine and Mearns communities if it did not proceed, and how vaccinations will progress in the interim when the current temporary usage of the town hall ends in April.
Following discussion, local member Cllr Sandy Wallace, seconded by Cllr Colin Pike, moved that an additional recommendation be added to ‘note with regret the absence of meaningful consultation and democratic oversight’.
Acknowledging concerns raised by community members and local councillors, Communities Committee chair Cllr Anne Stirling moved an amendment to support ongoing community engagement.
The amendment, seconded by Cllr Doreen Mair, called for the establishment of a focus group involving community representatives, along with officers from the Health and Social Care Partnership, officers and others.
The group’s role would be to assess the need of groups who have been displaced from the Invercarron Resource Centre and explore possible solutions.
The amendment also called for officers to review the approach that was taken regarding the proposals for the vaccination centre and was carried by 12 votes to 2.
Speaking after the meeting, Cllr Stirling said: “Aberdeenshire Council has responded to a clear direction put to it, we have debated it transparently and openly and we will continue to work and engage with our communities and proceed with this critical service provision in a positive way.
“The focus group will play an important part in tackling some of the concerns that have been raised and making sure that groups that formerly used the centre have access to the support and resources they require.”
Use of Invercarron to be reviewed annually
The HSCP is working to establish seven vaccination centres across Aberdeenshire – in Macduff, Fraserburgh, Peterhead, Inverurie, Huntly, Banchory and Stonehaven.
The Banchory and Inverurie centres are operational, with the remainder operating from temporary accommodation while works are carried out to prepare the longer-term venues.
A wide range of potential alternative vaccination centre venues in Stonehaven were explored by NHS Grampian, Aberdeenshire Council and the HSCP, with the Invercarron Resource Centre identified as the only one suitable for longer-term use.
Had the centre not been created, Kincardine and Mearns residents would have to travel elsewhere for vaccination services as they would no longer be available from GPs.
During the previous Kincardine & Mearns Area Committee discussion, commitments were given by the partnership to review the use of the Invercarron Resource Centre for vaccinations on an annual basis, and to work with the community in relation to parking and transport concerns.
Minor works costing around £75,000 are required to adapt the centre to support the needs of the vaccination programme and are expected to take around six weeks to complete.
Funding for the scheme will be provided by NHS Grampian or directly by the IJB if required.