“They say cut back, we say fight back” was the rallying cry outside Fife House this morning as anger over £30 million worth of cuts to the region’s health service boiled over.
Fife Council leader David Ross called on the Scottish Government to immediately review the funding needed to run NHS Fife as he joined a mass protest outside the council’s headquarters in Glenrothes from 9am ahead of the Fife Council meeting.
And he warned that NHS Fife’s need to slash the budget by around £30 million this year to help balance the books will make the challenging health situation in Fife “indescribably worse” unless
“You simply can’t make these kind of cuts without them having a real impact on services,” he told protesters.
Members of Unison, Unite and the Fife People’s Assembly were among those lobbying councillors ahead of the full Fife Council meeting, during which a motion on the cuts ahead was expected to be approved.
The motion, by Councillor Helen Law and seconded by Councillor Altany Craik, said a £30 million would be “devastating for an already under pressure health service in Fife” and would severely affect services on which all local communities depend.
Speaking ahead of the meeting, Wilma Brown, from Unison Fife, said there was a real feeling among staff that the actions proposed by NHS Fife would be cuts too far.
“We’re really concerned in NHS Fife that these cuts, that these “savings” as they are dressed up to be, are really going to have an impact on how the staff are going to be able to deliver the excellent service that we do, and for the impact it has on the patients,” she stressed.
“We need to mount this campaign, take it to the Scottish Government and say: ‘We can’t do this.’
“This is a 5% cut in our budget and it’s going to have a huge impact on patient care.
“Waiting lists will go up, people will be suffering more – the things that we’ve fought in the past year to prevent.”
John Gillespie, chair of the Fife Unite activities committee, added that further protests were planned to put pressure on Holyrood to act as soon as possible.
“Health in Scotland is a devolved issue to the Scottish Parliament, so the buck stops with them as far as I’m concerned,” he said.
“They have the powers to turn this around and sort it, so that there are no cuts.
“The SNP are proclaiming to be the party against austerity, but here we are with austerity max.”
Health chiefs have warned of major design and transformation of services as they attempt to trim 5% from the overall £604 million budget.
Areas being looked at range from cuts to jobs and reviews of security staff to reduction in bed numbers and changes to linen, café and catering services.