NHS Fife has responded to widespread concern in the Newport area over the potential closure of Nethelea Hospital by finally agreeing to hold a meeting in the town.
Both Newport, Wormit and Forgan Community Council and Netherlea’s League of Friends group had called on Glenrothes and North East Fife Community Health Partnership (CHP) to hold a public meeting to discuss its review of in-patient care for elderly people and the effect on Netherlea.
As part of the area-wide review, the CHP had planned a meeting at St Andrews Community Hospital to give representatives from the community council and the League of Friends the chance to see the new facility, but both said this didn’t go far enough to address local concerns.
It is understood a decision to close Netherlea is likely to be made at the CHP meeting on October 4, with any in-patients being transferred to St Andrews Community Hospital, Glenrothes Hospital or the newly upgraded Adamson Hospital in Cupar, while many others will be cared for in their own homes.
Welcoming the news that a local meeting will be held, the community council is now urging anyone with an interest in Netherlea to attend the meeting in the Upper Blyth Hall on September 7 at 7.30pm.
Community councillor Kate Legg said: “The problem is we really have no information at all; we only found out that Netherlea was under threat in a roundabout way and that kind of thing does make you suspicious.
“It is being called a review on ‘the future of Netherlea’ but we think it really means the ‘closure of Netherlea’.
Mrs Legg said: “We are sure the facilities at St Andrews are all very nice and very modern, but that isn’t the issue.
“The CHP doesn’t seem to have recognised that if Netherlea is closed there are 16 miles between Newport and St Andrews and the bus service isn’t great.
“They seem to think everyone can just jump in a car to get there which isn’t the case. We need to discuss all of these issues locally.”
Local councillor Tim Brett also said he “looked forward to hearing what the CHP had to say” and added that answers to the detailed list questions he had submitted in early July were “long overdue.”
A spokesperson for the CHP said there was “unnecessary anxiety” in the local area and confirmed it had agreed to take part in local meetings next month.
Glenrothes and North East Fife CHP chairman, Graham Watson, said:“The CHP places a high priority on the involvement of staff, local practitioners and stakeholders in the development of service plans.
“There appears to be some unnecessary anxiety emerging in terms of local people having their say.
“However, there will be ample opportunity to discuss new plans, respond to all of the questions we have had submitted, and an opportunity for further meetings in September in the Newport area.
“A final report including the future service model and recommendations will be presented to the CHP Committee in October 2011.
“All of the feedback and views collated over the next few weeks, will be presented as part of the final report.”