NHS FIFE’s handling of a public consultation into the proposed closure of the Emergency out-of-hours GP service at Glenrothes Hospital has been branded biased.
That’s the claim of members of the Glenrothes and North East Fife Community Health Partnership (CHP)which told health officials the report was “heavily weighted” to ensure the NHS bosses got their preferred outcome.
The allegations came as the partnership met for the last time to discuss the progress report surrounding the proposed service closure, before the final decision ise made by the NHS Fife board on August 27.
Lesley Eydmann, CHP localities manager, who presented the report, was roundly criticised for the exclusion of important information such as GPs and Glenrothes hospital staff views on the issues and the viability of possible alternatives to an outright closure.
Concerns were also raised at members only being given the reports minutes before the committee sat - giving them little time to form a response of query the report in detail.
Margaret Harper, non-executive member, voiced concerns at the last minute tabling, adding: “My other concern, as a member of this committee, is the paper is very biased about closing down the out-of-hours service.
“It gives us information about patient safety but doesn’t go into further details about how it was addressed and what was talked about. “If there were concerns about patient safety, we need to know what they were and how they are addressed.”
Fiona Purdon, another non-executive member, was also critical of the report and the way the options appraisal was conducted.
She criticised the fact that the options workshop, in which she took part, involved just five members of the public and contained heavily loaded questioning prior to an appraisal report being drafted that favoured a transfer of the Glenrothes service to Victoria Hospital, Kirkcaldy - a move that is expected to save NHS Fife £200,000 a year from its budget of £4.3m.
“I felt the public didn’t have the facts, much as we don’t have the facts now,” she said.
Mrs Purdon also questioned the main reasons for the service closure being centred around the ‘significant events’ within the 11 per cent of patients visiting Glenrothes Hospital and needing further treatment, adding:”We have been given no details or report how many people this equates too, what these ‘significant events’ are and how they compare to the other hospitals.”
Mr Eydmann said the figures would be posted upon the NHS Fife website but that the concern was greater with Glenrothes due to the lack of adjacent support services enjoyed at Kirkcaldy, St Andrews and Dunfermline hospitals.
Campaigners against the the closure have long argued that to combat this issue a minor injuries clinic is necessary at the Glenrothes site rather than a closure that would affect upwards of 65,000 people relying on the hospital for their out-of-hours GP service.
Members of the public can still make their views known with NHS Fife accepting representations via their website until July 31, Go to fife-uhb.PCESComments@nhs.net.