Scotland’s health secretary has come under further pressure as the row over Fife’s emergency out-of-hours GP cover intensifies.
Shona Robison, who has rejected calls to resign over NHS Tayside’s cash crisis, has been accused of failing the people of Fife after the region’s health and social care partnership closed overnight and weekend cover at three hospitals with just four days notice, amid claims of staff shortages.
Patients who would normally use services in St Andrews, Glenrothes and Dunfermline will instead have to travel to Victoria Hospital in Kirkcaldy, for treatment between midnight and 8am during the three month contingency period.
Labour MSP Alex Rowley said he was dismayed by the Scottish Government’s management of the NHS.
“Fife Health and Social Care Partnership has explained the reason for these closures is due to staff shortages,” he said.
“By failing to recruit adequate numbers of GPs, nursing and medical staff the SNP’s management of our health service has failed the people of Fife.
“We need to fix this problem before it spirals further out of control.”
Councillor David J Ross, Fife Council’s Conservative health and social care spokesperson, said: “We are all aware of the shortage of GPs across Fife and the entire country and now with punitive tax rises there is little incentive to attract medical staff from other parts of the UK and beyond,” he said.
“This is a problem which rests firmly at the door of the SNP Government.”
Similar concerns have previously been expressed by Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie.
In a statement, Ms Robison said the Scottish Government expected Fife Health and Social Care Partnership to work within the resources available to meet patient needs.
“Clinical staff and partners across Fife are working to develop a longer term solution and a public consultation will commence in June prior to any permanent decisions being made,” she said.
“The Scottish Government will continue to liaise with NHS Fife throughout their review process.
“We want a high-quality out-of-hours service which fully meets patient needs and we have invested £20 million over the past two years to take forward the recommendations made in an independent review into out-of-hours care.”