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.
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