A solution to the challenges facing NHS services in Kirkcaldy lies outwith Victoria Hospital, not within it, maintains a beleagured boss.
David Stewart, NHS Fife’s chairman of the operational division spoke out in response to figures which uphold a damning report exposing failings at the showpiece hospital.
At a meeting yesterday (Wednesday), members of the operational divisional committee heard over capacity and a lack of consultants were still having a crippling effect on care standards.
However, Mr Stewart maintained it was important the public understood staff were facing challenging circumstances.
“We received government assistance to look at a four hour A&E target because we were breaking it - sometimes by 12 hours - which was a concern,” he said.
“We have certainly improved but it has come at a cost. People are being seen within time but they are being moved on to wards with no capacity and that is not good clinical practice and causes me a lot of anxiety.”
He added: “ The solutionlies outwith the Vic, not within it, but I have to watch the staff here being pilloried. It’s very demoralising for them but they don’t have the solution and I feel sorry for them.
“This is July 17, where are we going to be when winter officially starts on October 1?”
Independent inspectors raised safety concerns after noting five beds were being squeezed into bays meant for four, meaning some patients had no access to oxygen, suction or electrical points .
However, NHS Fife’s recent figures showed 30 patients were still being placed into a ward meant for 22.
According to committee reports, Fife has five consultant vacancies and is actively recruiting for another seven posts; three in A&E.
Difficulties recruiting has hindered attempts to increase capacity but, with a rising demand of 15 per cent on radiology services, for example, NHS Fife relies on hiring private providers.
However, that strategy across services has contributed to an overspend of £1.5m against a budget of £27.8m .
Meanwhile, over the past three years, lists for people waiting to see a consultant continue to rise.
For example, the total number of patients waiting in May was 14,550 - 13 per cent more than last year.
Committee member Arthur Morris said: “That number seems to be going up year on year - next year it could well be up another 1000.
“This shows, to my mind, a disturbing situation.”