Health chiefs urged to think again over Netherlea

Tim Brett
Tim Brett

FURIOUS residents in the Taybridgehead area have made an impassioned plea to health bosses to reconsider a crunch decision on the future of Netherlea Hospital in Newport.

Glenrothes and North East Fife Community Health Partnership is due to meet on October 4, when it’s expected members will rubber-stamp the hospital’s closure as part of a shake-up of the way services are delivered to older people in Fife.

The CHP says that the Victorian building is no longer fit for purpose and that its closure would save NHS Fife some £250,000 a year - money that could be spent on community-based care. People who required in-patient care would be admitted to hospital in St Andrews, Cupar or Glenrothes.

But at a public meeting organised by Newport, Wormit and Forgan and Community Council last Wednesday - attended by around 150 people - CHP representatives were given a tough time.

Councillor Tim Brett, who represents Taybridgehead on Fife Council, said: “I think the CHP were taken aback by the strength of feeling this issue has aroused.

“The meeting was due to be held in the upper Blyth Hall but had to be relocated because so many people turned up.

“They made it very clear that there is no support locally at all for the closure of Netherlea, and some very strong feelings were expressed about the care and support that the hospital has given to families in the area for many years.

“While people can see the reasoning behind introducing community care and getting away from a more institutionalised approach, local people don’t see why they should lose Netherlea in order to pay for it.

“Anyone who needs hospital care will have to go to St Andrews or Cupar, and for relatives in the Taybridgehead area without transport they are both very difficult to reach.”

Councillor Brett added: “The problem with all this is that the CHP have only recently come up with their proposals and there is a lack of detail in them.

“A lot of questions are asked at the meeting that they were not adequately able to answer.”

CHP chairman Graham Watson described the meeting as an opportunity for a ‘lively and open’ exchange of views.

He said: “There was clearly strong public support in the local area for Netherlea Hospital, and concern about the change in focus away from institutionalised care.

“These changes are essential to meet the challenge of ever increasing demand for health services.

“I believe, however, there is general acceptance that it is right to maintain people in a home environment, and as independent as possible for as long as possible.”

Mr Watson pledged that questions and comments received from the community will be considered alongside the review recommendations presented to the CHP committee on October 4.