It has been clear for some time that Fife is in the middle of a GP crisis. We have seen surgeries struggle to recruit full-time doctors to replace those that have retired or moved on. As a result, many practices are having to close their lists to new patients and we have seen the closure of out-of-hours services in Glenrothes, Dunfermline and St Andrews.
That is why I have been trying to find the underlying cause of the crisis and find out just how bad it is, including raising the issue in Parliament and directly with the NHS. It is also the reason why I have spoken out as NHS Fife released a position statement on GP practices experiencing recruitment difficulties in Fife but marked the document as confidential.
I am clear that politicians cannot be silenced from speaking out. Despite knowing how many full lists there are, how many surgeries have vacancies of longer than a year, in one case 2 years, we are gagged from speaking out.
We have been told that one surgery is considered to be in a ‘high risk situation’ but I cannot name where. This is outrageous and damaging to relationships between the board, local politicians and patients.
As a public body, NHS Fife should be as open and transparent as possible. Hiding statistics and figures behind a ‘confidential’ clause goes against this and there must be an immediate rethink.
Following rumours of being side-lined after questioning the board, we have seen yet another high profile resignation with the Chair or the Health and Social Care Partnership leaving. As a result, senior members of NHS Fife are leaving at the rate of one every six months.
Fife has a right to know what is happening in their NHS and they have a right to know what action is being taken to address this growing GP crisis. Politicians must no longer be silenced.
On average, 17 people in Scotland die each year as result of an ‘industrial incident’. It is simply unacceptable to have workers dying because of negligence or recklessness by their employers.
Far too many people in Scotland still do not return home to loved ones after going to work – this must change. That is why I have today lodged my proposal for a member’s bill on Culpable Homicide.
I would like to thank Scottish Hazards for their support and allowing me to launch my consultation at their conference in Glasgow this morning. I want to thank Thompsons Solicitors and Unite the Union for their continued support as well.
I especially want to thank Louise Taggart, whose brother Michael was killed at work in 2005 for joining me and telling her heart-breaking story.
Louise’s story shows the real human cost behind our failure to take the action needed. That is why I hope all political parties in the Scottish Parliament will join with myself and Louise to end the scandal of death and injury at work.
I am once again backing Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust and their work to try and increase the rate of cervical screen in Fife and across Scotland.
The latest annual cervical screening statistics show that there has been a slight fall in Fife and Scotland in the number of cervical screenings. According to statistics attendance is lowest amongst those aged under 30, women living in areas of deprivation, or from black, Asian, and minority ethnic, communities.
This is despite the fact that cervical cancer is the most common cancer in women under 35 and is largely preventable through screening and HPB vaccination programmes. Therefore, any decrease in screening rates is disappointing and I would urge all women who are eligible to attend regular check-ups to take part in what can be a potentially life-saving test.
That is why increasing the rate of screening must be a priority. We need to ensure appointments are more accessible, we are targeting the groups that are less likely to take a smear test for a variety of reasons and we are looking at innovative solutions such as increasing access through sexual health services and the introduction of self-sampling.
Latest figures from ISD Scotland show that NHS Fife is still failing to meet the 18-week standard set for tackling child and adolescent mental health.
Despite the standard being set at 90% of patients being seen within the 18-week period, only 70.2% were seen within that time in the past quarter. Whilst this is up from the 67.7% in the quarter previous, it is down on the 74.8% for the same time last year.
These figures must serve as a wakeup call for NHS Fife and the Scottish Government. I am regularly contacted by constituents concerned by their, or their child’s, long waiting times and we need to see action taken to ensure all patients are seen within 18 weeks.
I recently visited Tullibody Healthy Living Project, a voluntary organisation which provides vitally important services to promote healthy living to the local communities of Tullibody, Cambus and Glenochil.
The service works in partnership with local volunteers and agencies to provide local access to various healthy living activities from walking groups and fitness classes, a fruit ‘Barra’ every Thursday, a work club and a Singing for Memories group, which all positively benefit local people.
I acknowledge that local authority funding is under pressure, but it is important that we recognise the benefits of organisations like the Healthy Living Project and seek to protect the good work they do.
Last week I raised the closure of the out of hours centres in Dunfermline, St Andrews and Glenrothes with the Health Secretary.
Tonight there will be a public meeting in St Andrews with another scheduled to take place in Dunfermline.
I have been warning the Scottish Government of a GP crisis for some time. If there are well known difficulties with practices struggling to recruit GPs for during the day, it is unsurprising that finding cover at night is even harder.
In response to my question the Scottish Government admitted that there were “significant issues” in Fife. Continue reading →
I was happy this week to show my support for MS Society Scotland’s Awareness week which runs between 23-29 April to raise awareness of the important role research plays in the lives of people affected by MS.
I know that research into improving treatments for MS sufferers is vital for improving daily life for those living with the illness.
MS Society Scotland’s ‘Kiss Goodbye to MS’ campaign encourages people to give up their guilty pleasure this May to raise money for research and you can get involved by visiting their website.
Following the news that Fife Health and Social Care Partnership have closed three out-of-hours services in the Kingdom, I have written to both Michael Kellet, the Director of the Partnership, and Shona Robison, the Health Secretary, to call for immediate support to reopen the services and for action to address the GP and staffing shortages in Fife.
It was announced earlier this month that Glenrothes Community Hospital, Queen Margaret Community Hospital in Dunfermline and St Andrews Community Hospital will be closed for three months between midnight and 8am.
This decision is causing great concern with patients worried about how they will travel to the Victoria Hospital in Kirkcaldy when they need to see a doctor, concerned about the cost of taxis and the distance to travel and what this suspension really means for the future of the services.
This situation is particularly worrying for frail or vulnerable people in our communities, and they do not feel reassured by the contingency plan.
That is why I am requesting an urgent meeting with Michael Kellet of the Health and Social Care Partnership. Continue reading →
I am backing Asbestos Actions’ calls to improve care for asbestos sufferers across the country. That is why I joined the group at Holyrood to launch their new support booklet for those affected by the conditions.
Asbestos related conditions claim around 3,000 lives in the UK every year. To put that in context, that is more than are killed on the roads throughout the country.
Asbestos-related diseases occur when people breathe in asbestos fibre which can lead to benign conditions like pleural plaques where the lining of the lungs or ribcage calcify or terminal cancers like mesothelioma which can prove fatal just weeks after diagnosis. Continue reading →
I will be raising the GP crisis in Fife with the Health Secretary as I ask what support the Scottish Government is offering to struggling practices in the Kingdom.
The question follows a series of stories regarding the crisis facing GPs and patients in the region. This included the closure of a practice at Kirkcaldy Medical Centre despite NHS Fife trying to run the service with locum GPs.
Following numerous failed attempts to hire a replacement full time GP, Fife Health and Social Care took the decision to close the practice. As a result over 1,600 patients were dispersed to new practices.
Nationally over 52 practices have been transferred to local health services. As a result more than 160,000 patients are now served by an NHS run practice. According to the Royal College General Practitioners there is estimated to be a shortfall of 856 GPs by 2021.
Fife has been facing a growing GP crisis for some time and as RCGP highlighted it is expected to get worse not better in the years ahead. Patients deserve to been seen quick, by their regular GP and without being ferried from practice to practice. Continue reading →
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