Health plan clash

“A PROPOSED new health centre could cripple East Renfrewshire if it goes ahead” .

That’s the view of ERC opposition leader Jim Swift, who at Thursday’s meeting was one of seven councillors to vote against the budget and against plans for the Eastwood health centre.

The administration agreed to match fund the NHS joint body looking after healthcare — the community care and health partnership proposal — to the tune of £8.4 million for one major health centre, most likely in Clarkston.

However, Mr Swift argues that this is “a complete waste of money”.

“If one Leviathan of a health centre is the only option, I’ll support it but hate to see £8 million of council tax payers money wasted.

“A pair of smaller health centres, one in Clarkston, one in Newton Mearns would be a more appropriate use of money and wouldn’t require the massive financial undertaking needed just to move office for administrators, which we already have in Giffnock.

“With the possibility of many more houses being built in East Renfrewshire, we will have other priorities in education and roads to fulfill.

“The council is not a health care provider, it is a provider of social care and this is not a good use of resources”.

However, yesterday, Julie Murray, director of East Renfrewshire community health and care partnership confirmed funding had been identified for the development of a “new, single-site health and care centre” only.

Council leader Jim Fletcher is “absolutely determined to make one health centre a reality”.

He said a single unit was the only realistic way forward: “A proposal for two health centres is pure politics.

“It couldn’t happen as we would have to double our revenue costs and it would create problems with the match funding.

“It is not tenable to put a health centre in every district. A state-of-the-art facility has to cover a greater geographical area.

“The current Clarkston clinic is no longer fit for purpose and it needs upgraded. I am genuinley staggered Conservatives could vote against investment at this scale”.

Councillor Fletcher anticipates the new health centre would be open by 2015 although admitted he is taking Nicola Sturgeon in “good faith” on her promise.

He added “We guarantee we will honour our side of the bargain. We were let down by the Scottish government for the college and we are determined that history does not repeat itself for the health centre”.

Although Mr Swift claimed to be in support of 99 per cent of the council’s budget, the feuding politicians were still at loggerheads over the issues including roads funding and corporate hospitality.