Concerns over St Andrews out of hours decision delays

Mr Rennie with Wendy Chamberlain, prospective parliamentary candidate for North East Fife, at the hospital.
Mr Rennie with Wendy Chamberlain, prospective parliamentary candidate for North East Fife, at the hospital.

The Scottish Cabinet Secretary for Health has said there is ‘no guarantee’ a decision on the future of the out of hours service will not be delayed again.

North East Fife MSP Willie Rennie questioned Jeane Freeman about the delays at the Scottish Parliament last week, asking for an assurance that a decision would not be delayed again.

A decision was supposed to be taken in April, however, that was pushed back to May. That was also delayed. A decision is now expected to be taken later this month.

Ms Freeman said: “The board, the local authority and, importantly, the IJB need to be given the time to go through the proper processes in order to get it right. I cannot guarantee that there will be no further delays, but both the IJB and the relevant partners are very aware of people’s anxiety about this issue and their desire to see the conclusions.”

The lack of assurances was criticised by Mr Rennie, who said: “There’s been no overnight provision in St Andrews for well over a year now, which is completely unacceptable.

“We have worked hard with the staff at the Fife Health and Social Care Partnership developing an innovative and workable new service for the residents of north east Fife. This delay is yet another blow to our residents as the longer the decision takes, the greater the risk for patients in north east Fife.”

Ms Freeman also told MSP Annabelle Ewing that she has been given assurances by the Partnership that, if there are no further delays, the new out of hours regime should be in place “before the winter”.