FIFE Council leader Alex Rowley has raised concerns about plans to cut 300 hospital and care home beds in the Kingdom.
Cllr Rowley believes Fife’s care system is unprepared for the move - which was announced last summer as part of a national drive by the Scottish Government to treat more elderly people at home and in the community rather than in hospital or care homes.
A partnership of Fife Council, NHS Fife and the voluntary sector received £4.9 million of the Government’s £70m Change Fund to carry out the new measures last year.
But Mr Rowley told the Press he was concerned the loss of 200 hospital and 100 care home beds was based on “massive assumptions”, one of them being that relatives of elderly people would be available to provide their care.
He has called for further discussion with the people of Fife to make sure they are aware of the plans.
He said: “The issue being put forward by the Scottish Government is it can’t afford to continue providing care for the elderly as more and more people are now living longer.
“It has provided money through the Change Fund to bring in alternatives and develop community services to allow the elderly to stay at home longer which is fine.
“But part of the plan that the Council and NHS Fife have is to close 200 hospital and 100 care home beds and there are massive assumptions being made that I’m not convinced are correct.
“It’s placing more emphasis on people staying at home so it’s assuming that families will be able to take on that extra responsibility to provide that support.
“Staff in hospitals are already overrun as it is so if you close 200 beds, that would mean reducing staff and I don’t believe our care system is prepare.”
Vicky Irons, general manager of NHS Fife and member of the Health and Social Care Partnership (H&SCP), said: “The H&SCP see the opportunities created through the Change Fund in Fife as essential to designing future services for the changing needs of older people.
“Across NHS Fife it has enabled us to launch new care teams in the community which can provide treatment and assessment, without the need for an unnecessary hospital admission.
“Services developed with Fife Council teams also ensure that where possible, we reduce the delays that can often occur in discharges after hospital care has been concluded.”
She added that patients and carers’ views will form a key part of the feedback to the Partnership and that these experiences will be used to inform the Partnership plans for releasing resources from care homes and inpatient facilities in the longer term.