The fight to retain the Primary Care Emergency Service at Glenrothes Hospital has been described by one politician as the town’s most important campaign in the last 25 years.
And this week campaigners, politicians and the residents of Glenrothes and its surrounding communities have been celebrating a very significant victory.
Senior health officials have continued to insist the hospital’s out-of-hours GP service has been “unfit for purpose” and that there was “no alternative”but to close and move it to Victoria Hospital, Kirkcaldy.
At last Tuesday’s crunch NHS Fife board meeting, Susan Manion, general manager of the Dunfermline and West Fife Community health Partnership (CHP), and one of those leading the call for a move to Kirkcaldy, said the proposal was part of ongoing service improvements.
But health bosses saw sense and voted to reject the report outlining closure.
The decision, which could not have not have been closer after board members voted 11 to 10 to retain the service represents a major victory for the collective voice of Glenrothes.
It was widely expected that the health board would vote to accept the proposals which would have left around 80,000 Glenrothes residents, including those in outlying areas including, Falkland, Ladybank, Kennoway and the Howe of Fife without an emergency GP service within their vicinity.
But while the controversial plans were backed by several board members, others attacked the report saying it was “deeply flawed” and “biased” .
Margaret Harper said: “I don’t think closure is the right thing to do, we would be making a decision to deprive an entire population.”
Councillor Andrew Rogers argued that the whole process of public consultation had been designed to bring a favourable outcome for those in favour of the closure and that the many public concerns expressed had been conveniently ignored.
Fiona Purdon highlighted that only five members of the public had been invited to take part in the appraisal and that clinicians had been been allowed to vote.
NHS Fife managers had wanted to co-locate the service alongside that of accident and emergency and other specialist treatment ensuring, what they described as a ‘smoother pathway of care’ and thus resulting in a better outcome for patients.
The decision provides campaigners with a chance to push for full and proper funding to bring the service up to a acceptable standard.