THE words were spoken by Tricia Marwick MSP - and they sum up why, today, the ‘Gazette’ is launching a campaign to keep the out of hours GP service at Glenrothes Hospital.
NHS Fife want to switch the service provided at the Forester’s Lodge hospital to Victoria Hospital, Kirkcaldy.
The move is opposed by Tricia Marwick, the town’s Scottish Parliament representative, our Westminster MP Lindsay Roy, most of our Fife councillors, and all of our community councils.
But, at the end of the day, what matters just as much is YOUR support: In the column to the left we have provided contact details for the various authorities and individuals involved who have either a direct, or indirect influence in shaping the final decision on the issue. Let them know your view, so they can form a clear opinion about what you, our readers, think about the proposal.
The out of hours service.
Round the clock, each day of the year, a general practitioner is available at Glenrothes Hospital to provide medical assistance to patients in the area and further afield at times when doctors‘ surgeries are closed, mainly at evenings and weekends, but also during times like the festive period.
Switching the service.
NHS Fife believe that the Glenrothes service is “not fit for purpose”, because it is the only primary care emergency service in Fife which is not connected to a hospital which can offer complementary facilities.
If, for example, a patient arrives at Glenrothes Hospital with a problem that can’t be dealt with there, they either have to make their own way to a facility that can deal with it, or an ambulance has to be summoned to take them. Resources that could better be used elsewhere have to be deployed and often vital time can be lost, something that will be avoided by offering the service at the Victoria where a full ‘suite‘ of facilities is on site.
The proposal is centred on providing the best patient care, and - although a saving of around £200,000 would be made - it is not financially driven. All staff at the Glenrothes service would be re-deployed and there is no threat to the hospital itself.
The case against.
The service is popular with people in the Glenrothes area because of its accessibility. It is also used by patients in locations as diverse as Ladybank and Leven. It appears to be particularly valued and heavily used by parents with young children. It is quicker and easier to travel two and a half miles from any location in the Glenrothes area than to make a seven mile trip to Kirkcaldy. During the times when the service is available, public transport to the Victoria is poor, or non-existent and, in any case, buses making the half hour journey would be unsuitable for unwell patients. A round taxi trip costs about £40, well out of the pocket of most local people. Even those with cars would face a longer journey and parking problems/financial liabilities at the other end of the journey. Removing the service would diminish the hospital’s offer. As services, such as out of hours, are removed, a question mark is placed over its viability. The Glenothes are has enough of a population to merit the service.
Upgrading the service.
It has been suggested that rather than being removed, the service provided at Glenrothes Hospital should be upgraded with the addition of a minor injuries unit, something that is already provided at St Andrews Hospital, despite the population served there being 12,000 against anything between 60-80,000 for Glenrothes.
A preliminary consultation was carried out through a ‘patient feedback survey’ at the end of last year and the beginning of this.
The returns were too small to be statistically significant, according to NHS Fife.
It has embarked on a series of meetings with national and local politicians and community groups, all of which have resulted in opposition to the plans being re-stated.
The Gazette’s view is that the service should be retained at Glenrothes Hospital Gladly, the campaign against the withdrawal of the service is not a party political issue - as many recent issues in Glenrothes and the surrounding area have been.
It unites, or should unite all of us.
We appeal to people of all persausions and none: get behind this campaign, for the good of the Glenrothes area and the people who live in it.