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Last Updated: Wednesday, 31 January 2007, 19:09 GMT
MSPs reject health board vote bid
Save Stobhill Hospital campaign
Bill Butler wanted to give communities more say
Plans for directly elected health boards have been thrown out by MSPs.

The backbench bill, put forward by Labour MSP Bill Butler, would have put voters in charge of choosing those who control local NHS services.

The Scottish Executive opposed the move but Holyrood's Health Committee endorsed its general principles.

Only two Labour MSPs - former minister Jackie Baillie, MSP for Dumbarton, and Cathie Craigie, MSP for Cumbernauld, - rebelled against the Executive.

The bill, which was supported by the SNP and the Conservatives, was originally backed by 18 Labour MSPs.

'Consultation processes'

But on Wednesday, ministers voted against it over fears it would cause "paralysis" with the hospital reform.

Mr Butler, Labour MSP for Glasgow and Anniesland, claimed the bill would give communities a direct say in the way their NHS services operate.

He estimated the cost of having health board elections would be between 600,000 and 1m.

Mr Butler also believed it would help end the widely held perception that many health board decisions were pre-determined.

Opening the debate, Mr Butler said: "The anger some people feel about certain decisions is, to a degree, generated by the manner in which these decisions are seen to be made.

"In secret, with little or no explanation, often predetermined and often ignoring the views of the community in responses to the board's own consultation processes."

Labour has pledged to look at pilot schemes for health board elections.

Health Minister Andy Kerr held out the prospect in his speech.

Mr Butler's bill would run the risk of "fragmenting" the NHS by making it harder to implement national policies.

He added: "It will risk unacceptable postcode patterns across the country of delivery."

Mr Kerr said services with lower public profiles, such as mental health, would receive less attention.

MSPs back health board elections
10 Jan 07 |  Scotland
GPs oppose health board elections
31 Oct 06 |  Scotland
MSP bids for NHS board elections
04 Apr 06 |  Scotland

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