FIFE Council leader Alex Rowley has voiced concerns about the levels of overcrowding, under staffing and lack of beds at Kirkcaldy’s Victoria Hospital.
He spoke out after the Press highlighted the case of Andrew Sanaghan (84), whose family has lodged an official complaint over his treatment at the hospital.
Cllr Rowley said a number of issues had also been raised with him by patients, their relatives – and worried staff members.
He said: “The overwhelming majority of staff in NHS Fife are dedicated, hard working and conscientious and therefore we know there are issues if they are at the point of taking steps to raise their concerns.
“In the lead up to Christmas, almost 10 per cent of patients waited more than four hours to be seen at accident and emergency, and this breach of the four hours continued into the new year.
“It is a fact that last week NHS Fife had to postpone elective surgeries at the Victoria Hospital over two days. While more beds were made available and extra staff brought in, the pressure on staff remains.
“I am of the view that serious questions need to be asked about the current state of NHS services within our hospitals in Fife and the ability of NHS Fife to meet the health needs of the people of Fife.”
Cllr Rowley highlighted concerns of overcrowding in the wards, saying he had been told of people being left on trolleys for hours and people being left in corridors. Day beds were being used for patients being kept in hospital and additional beds had to be made available by opening up a ward in the tower block.
“We really need to get to the bottom of what is going on and find out whether the current service is fit for its purpose, or has the numbers of beds and staff been cut below a level which is capable of meeting the health needs of the people of Fife,” he said.
“I am really concerned about the levels of reductions in beds and we need to bottom out how many beds and staff have been taken out the system and what the current state of play is.
“We need to know the numbers of beds and staff, and whether this is enough to meet the health needs of the people of Fife.
‘‘We need to know if there is overcrowding and we need to know the levels of complaints and, more importantly, the detail of the complaints.”
The Council leader has asked Councillor Andrew Rodger, Fife Council’s representative on NHS Fife Board, to look into issues at Victoria Hospital, as well as concerns over the relationship between health and social care in Fife.
Cllr Rodger this week voiced his concerns, telling the Council’s executive committee: “There is a lack of capacity in the health service at the moment.”
Professor Jim McGoldrick, chairman of NHS Fife, expressed his disappointment that Cllr Rowley had chosen to share his concerns with the press at a time when there continued to be active engagement between health and social service colleagues to appropriately manage patient care across the system in Fife.
He said: “In common with all other boards in Scotland, NHS Fife has experienced increased pressure in recent weeks over and above that planned for in the winter plan.
“The additional beds opened up that are referred to were part of that plan and all beds have been made available to accommodate further increased admissions.
“This increased activity has put a financial pressure on hospital budgets which we are currently overspending as a result.
“Senior NHS Fife Staff have been meeting Cllr Rodger in his role as chairman of the Health and Social Care Partnership and council representative on the NHS Fife Health Board to keep him appraised of the situation, and we acknowledge the joint good working going on during this period of increased demand.”