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Out-of-hours GP closures could continue till September, MSP claims

St Andrews, Glenrothes and Queen Margaret hospitals.
St Andrews, Glenrothes and Queen Margaret hospitals.

The controversial closure of out-of-hours GP services at three Fife hospitals could remain in place until September, it has been claimed.

Glenrothes MSP Jenny Gilruth said the fact a public consultation on the future of the overnight services was not due to start until June means it is unlikely they will be reinstated in July as planned.

Ms Gilruth has concerns patient safety will be compromised as a result of the closures at Glenrothes, St Andrews and Dunfermline, which means anyone requiring medical help between midnight and 8am will have to travel to Kirkcaldy.

She has now asked for a patient impact assessment to be carried out as a matter of urgency.

It has previously been pointed out that sick people who are unable to drive or get someone to take them to Kirkcaldy would have to rely on a taxi, a fact Ms Gilruth branded unsustainable.

“You can’t run an out-of-hours service in Fife predicated on your ability to pay,” she said.

She has called on members of the Integrated Joint Board (IJB) to vote against the proposals when they meet on May 22.

The decision to implement the contingency measures with just four days notice has resulted in a backlash in the communities affected.

Fife Council’s health and social care spokesman, Councillor David Graham, said he was very concerned.

“This is a position that no-one wants to be in but we have to keep in mind that patient and staff safety must always be at the centre of everything the service does,” he said.

“The overarching issue here is the reducing numbers of GPs across Fife which is having a detrimental effect on the services which can be provided and I urge the Scottish Government to take action on the shortage which is fast becoming not just an issue but a national crisis.”

A second public meeting to discuss the issue has been arranged in Glenrothes on May 16.

Health and social care director Michael Kellet has been asked to attend the event at the CISWO in South Street from 6.30pm.

Mr Kellet conceded last week that more notice of the closures could ideally have been given but that the decision was taken due to staff shortages.

“The clinical advice was clear that in the face of those challenges seeking to maintain three overnight centres wasn’t sustainable and would compromise patient safety,” he said, adding that the measures were working well so far.

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