The community hospital in Glenrothes could soon see a huge overhaul in the way it provides care.
At the Glenrothes area committee on Wednesday, councillors were updated on the redesign plan for the premises.
It would allow patients to see multiple clinicians in the same day instead of waiting weeks to be referred between services.
The new hub would also include links with social and housing departments and mental health workers.
David Heaney, Divisional General Manager of the health and social care partnership, told councillors that it was a clinically driven consultation to streamline the way patients accessed services.
Karen Gibb, NHS Fife’s change and improvement manager, told the committee: “Care has changed so much, just even in the last seven years, it is so sophisticated now.
“People who used to have to be cared for in community hospitals can now be cared for in homes. This historic model we are still using typically doesn’t meet patients’ needs.
“While people with complex needs are still cared for in community hospitals, at any one time, there are around 30 to 40 in community hospitals in Fife who don’t need to be there.”
Ms Gibbs added: “The consultation has shown many people would prefer to be cared for in their own homes, or close to their homes. While the new hub would still be a place for care, it would also be used as a base for a wide range of services.”
Ms Gibbs said that a shortage of clinical workers was also causing a strain on the service and that the new model would streamline and safeguard care in Fife.
Dr Helen Hellewell, chairman of Glenrothes health and social care locality planning group, told the committee that more needs to be done around intervention at an earlier stage to prevent hospital admissions in the first place.
Dr Hellewell said: “This new model will make better use of staff. People will have more fulfilling roles. We know we have an ageing population, and we need to make sure we have a safe, secure and effective model.”
However, concerns were raised by Cllr Altany Craik that this would lead to a reduction of services available in Glenrothes.
Cllr Craik said: “There is no doubt delivering care needs to be done differently, but we’ve heard this before in 2012 and again when we closed the out of hours service.
“As residents of the Glenrothes area, we need to know the capabilities of what is being delivered and that it’s not just a winding down of the hospital.”
Mr Heaney responded: “The workforce challenges have been real, especially over the last two or three years. What we currently have is a fragile solution, but not a permanent fix. The redesign tried to deal with it in a more stable, future proof way.”
Dr Hellewell added: “There will always be a need for community hospital beds – I don’t see a future where we wouldn’t have those. It would not be the intention to downgrade the service. There will always be a need for a certain number of people to be looked after in a complex care environment.”
Cllr Craik also asked if this was a cost cutting measure.
Dr Hellewell said: “There would be no savings intended with this new model. However, it is designed to allow clinicians to see more people faster and to prevent them deteriorating further.”
An update is expected back at the committee in early 2020.