Claire calls for urgent meeting on out-of-hours closures

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.  They took this decision with no consultation and little warning.  It has potentially significant consequences for the future of health care in Fife and the partnership must look again at solutions to this unacceptable situation.

According to the Health and Social Care Partnership this is response to nursing and medical staffing difficulties. It is no surprise that difficulties recruiting GP and Primary Care staff has been identified by the partnership as the problem and I believe that we are now clearly seeing the impact of the Scottish Government’s failure to address this.

After more than 10 years in government, the SNP have taken us to a situation where services are being rationalised because they have failed to train enough NHS staff to meet demand.

This is weakening the partnership’s ability to do its job and fulfil their responsibility to ensure that Fife has the staff in place to provide services safety and around the clock.  This current arrangement is simply unacceptable.