A last ditch bid to keep an out-of-hours GP service in north east Fife was voted down as moves to redesign healthcare across the region were approved on Tuesday.
Taybridgehead councillor Tim Brett urged the health and social care partnership to include an option to retain evening, overnight and weekend cover in the area in a key document to go out for public consultation.
Instead, the people of Fife will be given the choice of having overnight cover at Victoria Hospital in Kirkcaldy and Queen Margaret Hospital in Dunfermline, or at Victoria Hospital only.
Health and social care director Michael Kellet said other views, including a desire to keep out-of-hours GPs in St Andrews and Glenrothes, would be taken into account. However, he made it clear the options included in the paper were considered the only sustainable choices.
The consultation will now not start until July after partnership members voted to delay it for a month.
This will give officers tine to rewrite the proposals, following fears the language used in the paper was too complicated for most people to understand.
No assurance has been given that overnight GP cover, currently based entirely at Kirkcaldy amid staff shortages and rising demand, will ever be re-instated.
The decision has been met with anger and disappointment, with Glenrothes Labour councillor Altany Craik stating: “It looks like a done deal to me.”
While out-of-hours care looks likely to be centralised, the public will be asked about making other services more local with community hospitals used to look after people with complex needs who need round the clock nursing care.
This will free up acute hospital beds for those who need more urgent treatment.
The document also proposes the creation of community and wellbeing hubs where doctors, nurses and other professionals will co-ordinate appointments for patients with more than one health condition.
This should mean people will not be referred to different hospitals at different times but will be treated in one appointment.
Partnership chairman Simon Little said the changes were in response to Professor Lewis Ritchie’s recommendations to transform urgent care for the people of Scotland.
“He says services are fragile, unsustainable and may worsen if we do not rise to the occasion,” he said.
“That’s a situation we are seeking to address.”
Mr Kellet added that the aim was to make care “seamless and joined up”.
“Unless we redesign services we will fail to achieve that,” he said.