The St Andrews Out of Hours campaign team (L-R): Cllr. Linda Holt, Penelope Fraser, Dr Angela Anderson, Paloma Paige, Nick Farrer (student Director of Well-being), Peter Lomas (Balmullo CC). Ailsa Craig (University Director of Student Services).
After months of discussion, the decision by Fife’s Integrated Joint Board (IJB) to retain a St Andrews out of hours service (OOHS) has been announced and widely welcomed but there is anger at the decision to close the Glenrothes service.
The proposal for St Andrews will provide cover on weekday evenings for between 3 and 4 hours and during the day at weekends. Overnight, when medical staff are not at the hospital, the clinically led dispatch team will determine the appropriate site for care. A minimum of two to three cars will be available for home visits across Fife.
Dr Angela Anderson, chair of the St Andrews OOHS group, thanked the hundreds of people who had signed petitions and lobbied officials in the run up to yesterday’s meeting. “The outline proposal still needs refinement to ensure it is safe and sustainable and we look forward to continuing our close work with the partnership and NHS Fife so the new service can open as soon as possible,” she said.
MP Stephen Gethins said “NE Fife needs a GP out of hours service and I am pleased that the NHS bodies involved have recognised this”. He praised campaign groups in both areas and applauded their “relentless determination. While I am very disappointed about the proposed closure of Glenrothes out of hours, campaigners and local MSP Jenny Gilruth must be congratulated on doing all they could to highlight why local services should be retained,” he said.
Paloma Paige, President of St Andrews University Students’ Association, added: “For students and the elderly, the proposal will leave us much safer and less vulnerable should we not have access to our own cars, as is widely the case. “We’re very proud of all the students who engaged with the consultation process and made their views heard.”
In contrast to the mood in St Andrews and NE Fife, Glenrothes campaigners are upset, with local MSP Jenny Gilruth now calling for the decision to be overturned. “There’s a big question mark around health and social care integration and Fife appears to have been used as a test case,” she said. I’m not convinced the community has been listened to. It’s a horrendous decision and it’s really bad news for the town.”