Members of ten community councils from across North East Fife yesterday met officers from the Fife Health & Social Care Partnership to put forward their views about the Out of Hours service at St Andrews Community Hospital.
The overwhelming feeling at the meeting was that communities across North East Fife want to keep a full Out of Hours service at the St Andrews centre and were prepared to consider a judicial challenge if Fife’s Integrated Joint Board (IJB) decided to close the service.
Officers emphasised that no decision had been made to close the St Andrews urgent care centre and agreed to write to all community councils to let them know.
Speaking on behalf of the ten community councils, Graham Lang, Secretary of Ceres and District Community Council commented:
“We were absolutely united in calling for the return of a full service to St. Andrews.
It was clear that staffing problems elsewhere in Fife lay behind the emergency closure of the midnight-8 am service at St. Andrews Hospital, and had led the IJB to think that sacrificing the St. Andrews service would free up staff for Out of Hours centres in Kirkcaldy and Dunfermline.
An OOHS service focussed on urban centres as a one-size fits all model does not work in NE Fife, which, unlike the rest of Fife, has a rurally dispersed population with exceptional proportions of the elderly, students and tourists.
We were pleased to hear that the Partnership had been working much more closely with GPs and the communities in NE Fife to come up with ways of keeping the St Andrews service.
It looks like we have the GPs willing to work in the Out of Hours service based at St Andrews Community Hospital and a new flexible set-up underpinned by a multi-disciplinary pool of urgent care practitioners was proposed by the local community councils as the way forward.
This could become a model of best practice which other areas in Fife could learn from.”
QV has previously reported on the six month extension of the closure of the OOH service to allow consultation with the community councils with a final decision to be taken in September.