The fallout from last week’s decision by North East Fife Community Health Partnership (CHP) to close Netherlea Hospital continued this week, with local councillor Tim Brett raising a number of concerns with CHP chairman Graham Watson.
During last week’s meeting it was revealed that only three patients were being treated at Netherlea, leaving seven other beds empty.
Councillor Brett is concerned that that information may have have given the impression the facility was no longer needed when he believes the number is so low because admissions to the Newport hospital had been stopped ahead of the meeting.
He has now written to the partnership’s chairman to raise the matter, along with a number of other concerns.
In the letter, Councillor Brett says: “I have been advised that admissions to Netherlea Hospital from Ninewells had been stopped the previous week.
“I also understand that there were two patients in Ninewells who wanted to transfer to Netherlea and two other patients in the community who could have been admitted.
“I obviously do not know the clinical details of these patients, but by halting admissions it would appear that this pre-empted the decision of the CHP and by emphasising that there were only three in-patients in the hospital gave the impression that there was really not a need for these beds.”
Councillor Brett told the Fife Herald and St Andrews Citizen this week that he feels members of the CHP were misled at the meeting by not having been informed that patient numbers at Netherlea were low because admissions had been stopped.
He also raised concerns in his letter that not enough staff have so far been recruited for community healthcare, which would then allow the hospital to close, and that the Friends of Netherlea group were denied a chance to speak at the CHP meeting when NHS Fife standing orders would have allowed them to do so.
A spokesperson for NHS Fife confirmed Councillor Brett’s letter had been received and Mr Watson would respond to the points raised.
The spokesperson added: “We are surprised to learn that what we understood was a personal letter to the CHP chair from a board member who sat through last week’s detailed debate has been given to the press.
“We can confirm the CHP chair will be replying in due course, but are surprised at some of the letter’s content, including sections which appear to refer to identifiable individuals and therefore breach confidentiality.
“We are wholly confident in the accuracy of information given to the committee.”