Councillors in Glenrothes have made a last ditch plea to health bosses to rethink the planned closure of the town’s out-of-hours emergency GP service.
The proposal to close the Glenrothes service is part of a major reshaping of the out of hours GP provision across Fife. It was branded “bizarre and unacceptable” for the 50,000 people it currently serves when the issue was discussed at the town’s area committee.
The comments came as Michael Kellet, director of Fife Health & Social Care, gave a briefing to councillors ahead of Friday’s crunch meeting of the Integrated Joint Board (IJB) which will determine if the Glenrothes service will be axed.
The recommendation is to retain out of hours services at Victoria Hospital, Kirkcaldy and Queen Margaret Hospital, Dunfermline, while keeping weekend and occasional weekday provision in St Andrews.
That leaves no place for Glenrothes, which has angered some local councillors.
SNP councillor John Beare said: “I find it not only bizarre but also unacceptable that upwards of 50,000 people that rely on this service will now have to use Kirkcaldy if they want a GP outwith the daytime cover.
“I can’t imagine any other towns similar to the size of Glenrothes in Scotland which would not have out-of-hours cover.
“We have gone from removing the midnight to 8am cover as a provisional measure, to removing it altogether, and that is unacceptable.
“I find it bizarre that St Andrews, which has a fraction of the population of Glenrothes, and which already has access to Dundee hospital provision, will have a service of sorts retained.”
Labour councillor Altany Craik pressed Mr Kellet for reassurances that the availability of a free taxi service for those who could not get to a GP under their own steam would be made explicitly clear.
“This has not been an easy process, especially for Glenrothes residents who are being told to go to Kirkcaldy instead. This is a huge worry.
“The public’s deep mistrust over how this has been handled is there for all to see.”
Mr Kellet, said: “I must stress that out-of-hours is not being removed, it’s a redesign of the service across Fife that will be delivered differently.
“That service remains at the core of the wellbeing and health of people across Fife.
“The consistent clinical voice we have heard throughout this process is that the service is unsustainable. In short, we simply can’t deliver a safe service with the same number of centres as we currently have.
“There is a clear clinical advantage for Glenrothes in having a service that is attached to a wider range of services including accident and emergency and that is the recommendation we’ll be presenting on Friday.”