HEALTH chiefs have expressed concern over a proposed new strategy which they fear could limit access to specialist services for people in Argyll and Bute.

The integration joint board (IJB) of the area’s Health and Social Care Partnership (HSCP), which is run jointly by the council and NHS Highland, was due to discuss a proposed West of Scotland Regional Health and Social Care Plan as the Advertiser went to press on Wednesday.

The board’s draft response to the plan has highlighted fears over “limited acknowledgement” of families and childhood experiences over mental health, along with obesity and Type 2 diabetes issues.

It also flagged up concerns about financial sustainability, and warned changes to hospital delivery models could make access to specialist services more difficult.

Papers for its meeting also stated that further changes could be made to its draft response following an Argyll and Bute stakeholder event which took place last Friday.

The paper, presented by head of strategic planning and performance Stephen Whiston, said: “[The HSCP response] has been informed from discussion and debate within Argyll and Bute health and care partners, staff and public that the impact of the hospital delivery models could potentially worsen equity of access to specialist services for our population.

“The Argyll and Bute HSCP welcomes the approach undertaken to develop the West of Scotland Regional Health and Social Care Delivery plan.

“There are, however, a number of other areas and points the HSCP would like the regional plan to take into account and respond to.

“There is limited acknowledgement of families/adverse childhood experiences implicated in mental health need/distress and obesity and Type 2 diabetes.

“This is a critical anticipatory and preventative area that should be focused on to support the future planning and rebalancing of health resource into community services, and our population’s health and wellbeing.

“The discussion document points out that the resource implications of continuing the existing service model are unaffordable and undeliverable, with a £141m deficit on a £6.554m budget for health services across the West of Scotland region.

“There is however, limited indication of the financial modelling of the future service options and scale of service investment required.

“The HSCP would request that there is greater transparency on the financial modelling for the service models outlined together with the detail on the rebalancing of resource from acute to community services across the West of Scotland.

“Whilst the discussion document acknowledges this is work in progress, there is a significant gap in the detail of the current gaps in medical and other workforce to inform the ‘where are we now’ position.”

The blueprint for the proposed new strategy states the ambition of health boards all over the west of Scotland to improve the health and care of the 2.7 million people in their communities.

Argyll and Bute is one of 15 IJBs involved in the consultation, along with five NHS area boards across Scotland and five NHS national boards.