A senior Fife councillor has described as “shameful” an NHS Fife response to serious concerns over GP services in the Lochgelly area.
Councillors on the Cowdenbeath area committee asked for information on access to local medics, and waiting times.
But the length of time it has taken for the NHS to reply – almost a year – and the limited information which has finally emerged has been slammed by Lochgelly councillor Mark Hood.
It has been described by the Labour politician as “the best indication to date that the senior managers running healthcare services in the area believe they are accountable to no one”.
“It has taken us a year to get a response from NHS Fife on vital local services in our community and, to be honest, their response could not have been any less helpful.”
There has been a long running campaign to replace the current health centre, which has been deemed “past its sell by date” and built to cater for a much smaller population than now.
Noting the hard work and dedication of GPs and health workers, the local councillors wanted to find out about appointment systems, the length of time patients have to wait to see a doctor and any proposals for improving access to GPs.
But councillors were unhappy when a short reply containing little in the way of specific facts.
“We want much more detail about the level of need there is in our community for GP services and how this need is being met.
“The message we are getting from our community is, despite the hard work of local healthcare staff, there is just not enough resources to meet the need within our community.
“We need local healthcare that is properly funded and accountable to local people.
“At the moment we have neither and as a result patients in our communities are suffering.”
Medical director Dr Frances Elliot said NHS Fife was committed to working alongside councillors to ensure the best possible services for patients.
She said the GPs shortage was a national issue and while the board had acknowledged capacity issues in some areas, NHS Fife was “ahead of the curve” in exploring new models of care and expanding teams around GPs to support them.
Dr Elliot went on to talk about pilot projects to recruit community physicians, the integration of health and social care and NHS Fife’s developing clinical strategy.
She added: “The board recognises the need to keep our population abreast of developments around GP services and to ensure transparency we published an update on the matter at our most recent public board meeting.”
Updates were discussed at regular meetings with MPs and MSPs and the board planned to provide localised updates to councillors in future.