Health chiefs in Fife did not formally assess the impact of the suspension of out-of-hours GP services on society’s most vulnerable, MSPs were told.
Shona Robison, the Health Secretary, said an equality impact assessment was not carried out “due to the emergency nature of the contingency arrangements”.
All of Fife’s overnight primary care services have been moved to Kirkcaldy, forcing long journeys for those who were previously treated in St Andrews, Dunfermline or Glenrothes.
SNP MSP Jenny Gilruth slated the decision by Fife Health and Social Care Partnership not to run the assessment, which is designed to ensure a policy does not discriminate against any disadvantaged or vulnerable people.
In a parliamentary question, the Fife MSP said: “Does the cabinet secretary share my concern that no equality impact assessment was carried out prior to the temporary closure of Glenrothes hospital’s out-of-hours service, especially given that such an assessment was a key recommendation of the Ritchie review and that one in three children in Glenrothes lives in poverty?”
Ms Robison replied: “I understand that an equality impact assessment was not completed due to the emergency nature of the contingency arrangements, which were put in place as a result of clear clinical advice.”
The health secretary said the partnership insists it did take the impact on communities into account when making its decision to suspend services in parts of the kingdom for at least three months.
Earlier, Claire Baker, the Fife MSP for Labour, said the Scottish Government must shoulder the blame for failing to provide enough GPs.
Ms Robison said: “We believe that the new GP contract, along with the £110 million investment in primary care that there has been in this year alone will help to make general practice more attractive and to build on local innovation that has taken place over the past few years.”