Health Board estates department not meeting its responsibilities?

One of the things that struck me most when I looked at the Strachur Practice before coming here was the poor state of repair of the health center building and grounds. The Health Center, Doctor's House, and grounds are all owned by the Health Board and the practice rents the building from them.

As has been mentioned in a previous post, the layout and design of the practice is poor. But much more worrying was the fact that there was no running water in the treatment room, and that the treatment room's external door was rotten the whole way through. Not only can you see daylight through the holes, with water pooling on the treatment room floor whenever it rains, but clearly it is not possible to maintain a clean clinical environment. It turns out that this was an internal door which was fitted externally, and that this problem had been ongoing for at least two years.

This breaks so many laws it's hard to know where to start - Health and Safety, Infection Control, and of course the legal responsibility on landlords to provide an watertight building.

Anyway, when we did our walk-round with the Health Board on the 14th of April, I pointed these out to the Estates Manager, Steve Bernard, who is responsible for the Health Center. I was assured that these issues would be dealt with by the 23rd of April. However, the Health Board's contractors failed to turn up on the 23rd as promised. Nor did they turn up on the 26th as was then promised. Phone calls to these contractors produced a series of 'no-one at home' type calls and unanswered messages. So, we have told the Health Board that we are engaging our own contractors to put these serious issues right, and that we will then bill the Health Board for the work.

Of course, these are just the most serious problems. We also have:
  • outside 'security' lighting that doesn't work - I nearly fell and broke my neck leaving the practice after dark one night
  • walls that are pockmarked and dirty - for a new tenant, the Health Board really should have repainted the premises, and I think that the current state of the practice is depressing and unprofessional
  • gates, fences, walls and grounds that are unkempt, rusty and dilapidated - not only is this ugly, depressing and unprofessional, there are rusty sharp pieces of wire sticking out which could cause injury.

So, we are insisting that the Health Board tackle these issues rapidly too and will be giving them a deadline of two weeks after which we will commission our own contractors.

Argyll and Clyde Health Board had a very poor reputation, and in my experience and opinion (and, it would seem, that of the Scottish Executive), management incompetence was rife in the Health Board. Thankfully, Highland Health Board has now taken over responsibility for the area. Highland Health Board, as with any public body, has its problems, but is in my opinion one of the more competent Health Boards in Scotland. Certainly, the standard of the Health Center buildings in Highland area is very high.

So, hopefully, as Highland Health Board reforms the health services in the Argyll area, the standard of our buildings should improve to a more acceptable level.