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Politics: Access to services is a growing concern

By David Porter

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As we continue to relax Covid-19 restrictions, and it has been possible to get out and about more, I have been hearing from the community on a variety of issues across Banff and Buchan.

Among these issues is that of access to health services. Aberdeenshire Health and Social Care Partnership are conducting a review on the status of minor injury units across the area – including in Turriff – and it is important that the people of Turriff and surrounding areas have a voice in this review.

This is why I have written to the organisation asking for the results to be made public as soon as possible.

Turriff as well as Banff seems to repeatedly lose out from these reviews and I have raised my concerns about the inadequacy of community engagement with these towns, particularly Turriff.

We know that these units were temporarily shut during the initial lockdown period, but I’m concerned at the fact they still haven’t re-opened

more than a year on.

It is hard for people to understand why the minor injury units in Peterhead and Fraserburgh can be open when those in Turriff and Banff are not.

I understand that those towns have a larger catchment area but the people of Turriff, Banff and surrounding rural areas still need that service at times.

And I fear that demand will only increase over the winter months.

I continue to meet with Aberdeenshire Health and Social Care Partnership and will not give up in my efforts for answers as to when these

services will resume in Turriff and Banff.

The SNP must ensure our local health services have the resources they need.

Our local NHS staff do a great job but there just aren’t enough of them in rural areas like Banff and Buchan.

There is an additional £605 million coming to the Scottish Government from HM Treasury this year still waiting to be used and it is high time the SNP dedicate this to easing pressures on GP and ambulance services as well as on minor injury units and A&E.

I was extremely frustrated to hear the current booking system at recycling centres across Aberdeenshire won’t be reviewed until January at the earliest.

David Duguid has raised concerns about the delay in removing the booking scheme from HWRC sites
David Duguid has raised concerns about the delay in removing the booking scheme from HWRC sites

The council has confirmed that 4000 people took part in its consultation, which ended in October, on whether changes should be made to the temporary appointment booking system for recycling facilities across Aberdeenshire.

Several constituents have contacted me to voice their frustration at this added burden which they say is actively discouraging them from using

these facilities.

Appointments have already been removed in other council areas which is why I have once again called on Aberdeenshire Council to do the same.

We have seen a rise in fly-tipping across Aberdeenshire in recent months and I’m concerned leaving this system in place over Christmas will escalate incidents to uncontrollable levels.

While I understood the justification for the booking system when it was introduced in June 2020, I have asked the Council to put urgent thought

into whether that justification still exists.

I wanted to finish my column this week by paying tribute to Kenneth Cheyne who sadly died when his lorry crashed near Perth.

Kenneth was a well-known and popular member of the Turriff community, and my thoughts and sympathies go to his family during this very difficult time.

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