Fife pilot project for health board elections is scrapped

UK Independent candidate Peter Adams
UK Independent candidate Peter Adams

Non executive members of Fife Health Board believe a pilot venture for elected health boards has been beneficial - despite the Scottish Government scrapping the scheme.

Susan Archibald and Peter Adams told The Press the elections were worthwhile because it brought in a wider range of candidates than public appointments have ever received.

They also felt a broader range of experience from the candidates contributed to making better decisions for NHS patients and staff.

Their comments come after the Government announced it was abandoning the idea of elected health boards earlier this month.

NHS Fife and NHS Dumfries and Galloway piloted the direct elections, which meant the public were able to stand for and vote in elections for health board members. Elections took place in spring 2010 and ran for at least two years before the independent evaluation. However, the pilot found that due to low voter turnout, it was not an effective way to engage with the local community. In Fife fewer than 10 per cent voted.

Susan Archibald said: “The scheme was beneficial because it brought in a wider range of candidates than public appointments have ever received. The candidates had a wide range of experience - this contributed to making better decisions for patients and staff.”

Peter Adams, who was a non-exective member before resigning to stand as the UKIP candidate in the Dunfermline by-election, said: “Members of the public who had concerns about the NHS were working together to improve various aspects. Some people say it was a waste of money but there were 61 people who originally put their names down to stand, they did not do that for the money, they did it because they wanted to be involved.”

Lindsay Roy, Labour MP for Glenrothes, said it was refreshing to have public representatives elected to health boards. He said: “As far as the Glenrothes out of hours service is concerned, it is true to say the elected members, who were non partisan, coming from different parts of Fife, played a key role in saving the Glenrothes service. NHS boards must have appropriate ‘client’ representation and the Government should consider why the election turnout was so low.” A Scottish Government spokesman said if a draft order to terminate the scheme is approved by the Parliament, the pilot (including the board membership) will end on December 31: “Health boards across Scotland have now been asked to look at these pilots with a view to expanding their own recruitment process for health board members.”