A promise by First Minister Alex Salmond has given hope to 50 East End families that the £18 million Tollcross Aquatic Centre can provide a replacement for their doomed day care Centre.
The Accord Centre in Dalmarnock will be demolished to make way for a coach park for the Commonwealth Games. In preparation for that, more than 100 people with conditions such as cerebral palsy, Down’s Syndrome and complex learning needs have been dispersed to other centres in the city. But more than 50 families have rejected the proposed alternatives to the Accord believing they had been promised a ‘like for like’ facility.
A year ago, Alex Salmond visited the Accord Centre to see for himself what the situation was. Since then behind-the-scenes negotiations and discussions have been taking place with Glasgow City Council officials and elected members and the Scottish Government.
In a personal letter to one of the Accord Centre families, Alex Salmond said this week: ‘I am keen to follow through on the Scottish Government’s commitment to ensure that the legacy of the Commonwealth Games benefits the whole community of Glasgow. While recognising that you will be disappointed that Glasgow City Council has decided that those who use the Accord Centre are to transfer to the Bambury Centre, there is a real opportunity in the medium and long term to influence the shape of the new Aquatic Centre when it is adapted for community use following the Commonwealth Games in 2014. This brand new, modern, resource could be adapted to offer a similar facility to that which you saw when you visited the Harry Smith complex in South Lanarkshire.’
After that visit to South Lanarkshire one of the carers told this website: ‘I wept when I saw it. It was everything we could wish for. There was a swimming pool, gyms, film room, cafe, art room and facilities for people with special needs like our sons and daughters. But it was also open to the public in a way that was safe for the vulnerable users but integrated with the general public.’
Alex Salmond’s letter continued: ‘The longer term plans (at the Tollcross Aquatic Centre) include a range of opportunities for people with learning disabilities such as the development and use of a community hall and function rooms. There is also the possibility of first floor accommodation in the Spectator Gallery which would provide an opportunity for a range of activities. And Glasgow Life staff are investigating how to incorporate personal changing and support areas into existing plans at the build stage of the current development. I know from discussions with my officials, that colleagues within Glasgow City Council are keen to explore and develop this option with you and I would encourage you to do so.’
He concluded: ‘The Scottish Government is committed to ensuring that the Games Legacy includes recognition of the needs of people with a learning disability. The longer term plans for the Aquatic Centre present an opportunity to make a positive, tangible impact on the lives of such people. I have, therefore, asked my officials, working in conjunction with Glasgow City Council to prepare a funding package to ensure that a modern facility is created within the Tollcross Aquatic Centre after the Commonwealth Games in 2014 have taken place.’
In November, a confidential report was produced by the Joint Improvement Team made up of representatives of the Scottish Government, NHS and Cosla. According to Glasgow City Council, the report ‘rules out the possibility of Tollcross Aquatics Centre being used as a learning disability centre prior to the Commonwealth Games. There is also a question mark about having a dedicated centre after the games. But it makes clear the desirability of people from the Accord/Bambury Centre using Tollcross as part of their everyday activities.’
Councillor Matt Kerr, Executive Member for Social Care in a statement issued this week said: ‘I welcome this report and the conclusion that the Bambury Centre is a suitable base for people with learning disabilities. That Centre offers a real opportunity to deliver a service that will encourage greater social inclusion for service users. Considerable effort has gone into producing the report and so its recommendations will be taken very seriously by the Council.’ He continued: ‘Since reforming our learning disability services, people are showing they relish having greater flexibility to follow their own interests and aspirations. Using the Bambury Centre allows us to strike a balance between people taking greater control over their lives and retaining a centre.’
The move of the remaining families from the Accord Centre to the nearby Bambury Centre is imminent.
The Bambury Centre in Barrowfield, was recently purchased by West of Scotland Housing Association and is being refurbished. Part of the building, with its own entrance, will be reserved for the former Accord users as a meeting place where they will go out from to different activities.
After the receipt of Alex Salmond’s letter one of the East Carers Group said: ‘ I am very, very pleased with the letter. This is what we’ve been campaigning for. We are not talking about access to Tollcross. We want a fully functional day care facility. The Bambury Centre is the epitome of Glasgow City Council’s approach. It is a shabby after-thought. Our families are not being treated with the dignity they deserve. I cannot understand why the Council is not welcoming Tollcross and incorporating the facilities we’re asking for. They are being dragged kicking and screaming to this. They have been given £150,000 of public money for a feasibility study into making Tollcross suit the needs of vulnerable people but they are not fully engaged with the idea. We want a fair replacement for the Accord Centre. The only people who don’t see this are Glasgow City Councillors.’
Grace Harrigan, an official spokesperson for the East Carers group said: ‘We welcome the commitment to provide modern day centre facilities in Tollcross. But we’d like it nailed down. This is not about access to Tollcross. By law, all new buildings should be accessible. Shame on Glasgow City Council if, after spending £18m on the Aquatic Centre at Tollcross, they have not included the needs of some of their most vulnerable citizens.’
In October at the Council meeting where the decision to close the Accord Centre was taken, Grace was one of three parents evicted from the public gallery for shouting at the Labour Councillors presenting the case for closure. Because of that, she believes she was targeted when she attended the February Budget meeting of the Council. Not only was she taken out of the public gallery by attendants but she was told she was banned for life from the City Chambers. On the day she told this website: ‘I was doing nothing but listening. Then the attendant came over and said I was disrupting the meeting, took me out of the building and told me I would never be allowed back in.’
This week, in response, a Council statement was received about the incident: ‘A member of the public was asked to leave the City Chambers after being warned by staff about their conduct during the budget debate. No-one has been banned from the City Chambers as a consequence of this incident.’
A long term supporter of the Accord campaigners, community activist, Iain McInnes told this website: ‘This letter from Mr Salmond is good news. We’ve waited a long time for this. However, this is not victory. It is positive input along the road. When we get a letter saying Tollcross will be available for day care, offering facilities which have been available in the Accord Centre, and more; then we will believe the campaign will have succeeded.’
A pioneering new service for the deaf community in Glasgow was launched in October, aimed at supporting people and helping them adjust to the reality of depending on hearing aids.
‘Hear to Help’ was officially launched by The Royal Institute for Deaf People (RNID) on Friday 22 October and will help deaf people maintain hearing equipment and make sure those who depend on NHS hearing aids are well integrated with friends, family and work colleagues.
To achieve this, RNID will be running drop-in sessions across the city taken by trained volunteers. At Linthouse Housing Association on Friday 22 staff from RNID gave an example of the great work they do with hearing aid equipment and Delia Henry, RNID Director for Scotland, explained a little of what ‘Hear to Help’ will offer:
Said Delia:’Getting used to a hearing aid can be difficult and takes time. Our committed team of volunteers is looking forward to running community drop-in sessions and making home visits to build the confidence of hearing aid users. It’s amazing to see the tremendous impact a hearing aid can have in transforming a person’s ability to hear and live a full and active life.’
Nicola Sturgeon was at Linthouse to see the new service launched and believes it will prove invaluable. Said Nicola: ‘I wish everyone involved with Hear to Help well and am delighted that a number of drop- in sessions will be operating in my constituency.
‘Hearing loss can create barriers for people and leave them feeling isolated, a project like Hear to Help will breakdown those barriers and make life better for hearing aid users.’
The launch of ‘Hear to Help’ comes after the Co-Operative Group raised £3.7 million so that RNID could expand its services throughout the Glasgow region. The service is also being funded by the Scottish Government.
Think this service could help you or someone you know? Visit: www.rnid.org.uk/HearToHelp and find out when and where the drop-in sessions will be.
A team of Glasgow-based doctors, nurses and clinicians have spent the Christmas and New Year period preparing for deployment to Southern Afghanistan. Health Secretary Nicola Sturgeon MSP visited them before they headed off to treat the wounded in that war theatre.
The Nation Health Service staff are all Territorial Army (TA) volunteers at 205 (Scottish) Field Hospital (Volunteers) base which is in the Health Secretary’s Govan constituency.
She spoke with Commanding Officer Colonel David McArthur, his senior staff, and many of the team who will be flying to Afghanistan this month for a three-month tour.
‘Working in the NHS is already a huge contribution for anyone to make to society. To use your professional expertise and volunteer in the forces, too, is truly selfless,’ she said.
In his civilian role as a staff nurse, Captain Ernie Dagless, from Springburn, is on emergency operating theatre teams at Glasgow Royal Infirmary.
His first TA deployment was to Iraq in 2003.
‘I see a broad spectrum of injuries and work around all the surgical specialities,’ Ernie said. ‘The same is going to happen on deployment, there are going to be injuries and we are going to be the people to treat them. It’s my job to deal with whatever comes in the door.’
That pragmatic approach to work will keep the TA medics focused, he believes. ‘The environment is different – it is in the middle of the desert – but you’re aiming to do the best you can for people.’
Corporal Michelle Williamson, from Broomhill, specialises in treating spinal injury patients at the Southern General Hospital. While acknowledging that nursing is seen as perhaps a traditional role for women on the field of battle, she points out that more of her female peers are moving into combat operations. The recognition that men and women bring different but complementary skills to battlefield triage (prioritising casualties) is crucial in the smooth running of her unit.
‘Women are a very important part of the military. It’s important to have a female face in many situations,’ Michelle said. ‘Women also bring many skills to the job and you need the skills mix between men and women. It’s the same in any place of employment.’
The LOCAL NEWS GLASGOW hopes to carry a blog from the unit. Watch this website for updates from the battle front. www.localnewsglasgow.co.uk
Five adventurers who left the comfort of the Liquid Ship, their favourite pub in the West End, for the windswept and interesting climes of John O’ Groats, have raised more than £5,000 for Maggie’s Centre.
The team – Martin Johnstone, Adam Alexander, Lee Vickers and Glen Marrilier – buddied up with Kevin McLelland, whose wife, Chantelle, has successfully battled thyroid cancer, to make the gruelling 400-mile cycle trip North in five days.
Looking back on a journey that had more than its fair share of sun, rain, bumps, bruises and punctures, Kevin said: ‘We were inspired by the sense of achievement, absolutely exhausted, looking forward to the next challenge whatever that might be, and in need of a cold pint.’
He added: ‘Chantelle had cancer a couple of years ago. At the time we were provided with fantastic care by the NHS. However, the real need for support came well after the surgery.
‘Both of us were unaware how big an effect cancer would have on us after the event. We turned to a fantastic organisation, the Maggie’s Centre, who offered us so much help and support.’
Southern General City is on its way. The blueprint for an £840m hospital campus on the Govan/Linthouse site of the present Southern General had been unveiled by Health Secretary Nicola Sturgeon.
The largest single NHS hospital project yet undertaken in Scotland, it will cost £670m to build with the additional £170m being the kitting out costs for internal roadways, patient transport termini and equipment.
NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde (NHSGGC) have awarded the building contract to Brookfield Europe, a developer with experience in the healthcare field. They judged it was the best value for money though not the lowest bid.
A 14-floor adult hospital with 1109 beds will be created with every patient having their own en-suite. This will help in the fight against hospital infections.
A children’s hospital, with a separate identity and entrance, will be next to the adult hospital. It will have 256 beds over five storeys and will replace the existing Royal Hospital for Sick Children. Children helped design some features which include a covered roof garden and a stage for theatrical productions. There will be a mix of four-bedded and single-bedded rooms because a child’s health benefits from being around other children.
The children’s hospital will be linked to the adult hospital as well as the maternity wing which is being redeveloped at a cost of £28m. Early in 2010 the maternity hospital is expected to be opened.
Said Health Secretary Nicola Sturgeon, who is MSP for the area: ‘This is a major milestone in Scotland’s biggest ever hospital building project. This is good news for patients and the entire community. Every penny of the cost will be met from the public purse and the jobs created by the construction will provide a major boost to the local economy.
‘The designs I’ve seen for the adult and the children’s hospitals will provide world-class facilities and be important weapons in our fight against hospital infections. I look forward to seeing this radical design transforming the Govan skyline.’
Three NHS facilities were praised by Nicola Sturgeon, Scotland’s Deputy First Minister and Cabinet Secretary for Health and Wellbeing when she formally opened the building they all share as their headquarters.
Caledonia House at Fifty Pitches site in Cardonald is home to NHS 24, NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde and the Scottish Ambulance Service among other health agencies. Around 700 employees work there round the clock. ‘This is a fantastic example of joint working,’ said the Cabinet Secretary as she unveiled a brass plaque. ‘It is THE leading example and is no mean feat for everyone involved.’
Refurbished at a cost of £1.6m, Caledonia House was built in 2000 and is leased by NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde for 15 years. The joint project was completed within 18 months.
‘Not only does it provide quality accommodation, the benefits of staff working closely together are already being found. Face to face working transforms contact. Now people aren’t just talking on the phone, they can walk a few steps to see the person they need to talk to. Such integration provides for better patient care,’ said the Minister. ‘This is a fantastic achievement and is thoroughly impressive,’ she said adding her personal thanks for the hard work which had gone into the project.
Andrew Robertson, Chair of NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde said: ‘Three bodies was enough critical mass to achieve this. There is no down side. We have quality accommodation, effective joint working where we gain from each other and there is real value for money.’
Alan Watson, Chairman of NHS 24 added: ‘This move is providing an excellent opportunity for better integration, particularly in Out of Hours care which can only improve patient experience in the longer term.’
The Out of Hours service is the largest in Scotland if not the UK and cares for 1.25 million people. ‘Close working partnership put us in a better position to meet the current winter’s higher levels of demand,’ said Andrew Robertson.
William Brackenridge, Chair of the Scottish Ambulance Service Board said: ‘The new facility has improved our ability to answer 999 calls and quickly dispatch the most appropriate response to patients. Altogether, the move adds up to a better service for our patients.’