Staff shortage forces NHS Fife to seek help

Alex Rowley MSP

Alex Rowley MSP

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Fife NHS is now reliant on help from radiologists in Edinburgh and Tayside to provide essential services.

The region is operating with just eight radiologists - despite rising demand - and the health board has been forced to consider sending Fife patients elsewhere.

A NHS Fife spokesman said: “In common with Boards across Scotland, NHS Fife continues to experience particular challenges in recruiting to vacant radiology posts, due to a national shortage and rising demand.

“In addition to seeking to recruit a number of additional consultant radiologists, we remain in close discussion with neighbouring Boards with a view to expanding regional radiology arrangements to ensure patients in Fife continue to be seen within an appropriate timescale in future.”

He added: “Whilst these discussions are in their infancy, our aim continues to be to provide services are locally as possible.”

Meanwhile, Alex Rowley MSP has raised concerns that Victoria Hospital may not be able to operate safely over the winter.

He said: “At the NHS Fife board meeting I’m told the chairman, Allan Burns, asked chief executive Paul Hawkins for an assurance that the Victoria Hospital was safe.

“Running at 98 per cent capacity, you can imagine the pressure on staff working there, trying to find beds for patients and ensuring people get proper treatment.”

He added: “I think it incredible that the outgoing chairman of NHS Fife would publicly question the senior management team about the operational safety of the Victoria Hospital.”

NHS Fife said: “Whilst the Victoria Hospital can experience high occupancy rates over winter, and currently has a high rate of occupancy, we continue to deliver our full range of services and patient safety is always our top priority.”