NHS Fife has approved Participation Requests, made under the Community Empowerment Act, by St Andrews Community Council and Glenrothes Tenants and Residents Association, who will now contribute to the redesign of primary care emergency services in the region. The decision was made as new figures revealed Fife’s reduced out-of-hours service saw more patients in December than almost any other time in the past four years.
Evening cover continues to be provided at four centres in St Andrews, Glenrothes, Kirkcaldy and Dunfermline, while overnight and weekend GP cover has been centralised at Victoria Hospital in Kirkcaldy since April due to a shortage of staff.
NHS Fife had proposed closing St Andrews and Glenrothes completely, while retaining services at Kirkcaldy and Dunfermline, or Kirkcaldy alone. However, a final decision was postponed in December, after a public outcry and calls for further consultation..
NHS Fife chair Tricia Marwick warned the approval of the participation requests would not necessarily lead to the outcome campaigners were hoping for. “We have to be absolutely clear it’s not about any decision that is taken,” she said. “This is about a request to take part. This is a first for us. It may be that after this is all over, they may still be unhappy about the outcome.”
North East Fife Liberal Democrat MSP Willie Rennie, who has campaigned to keep the St Andrews service open, said he hoped the involvement of the public would be positive and engaging “Meaningful participation will help us work out in partnership with the Fife Health and Social Care Partnership how we can keep the St Andrews out-of-hours facility open,” he said. “It would be illogical to close the facility when there is greater demand for the service.”
Councillor Linda Holt, representing the East Neuk and Landward, has also been a strong supporter of the campaign to keep the St Andrews service open, said: “Cutting services does not reduce need.”