The suspension of Out-of-Hours GP emergency services at three hospitals across Fife is to continue for at least a further six months.
The Primary Care Emergeny Service (PCES, which operates from Glenrothes, St Andrews and Dunfermline hospitals, has ceased to operate since it was cut without warning in April 2018, because of the lack of GP’s and fears over patient safety.
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Since then patients from across Fife requiring the Out-of-Hours service have been directed to Victoria Hospital in Kirkcaldy.
Michael Kellet, director of Fife Health and Social Care Partnership, confirmed the extension.
He said: “We need to extend contingency measures for out of hours care for a further six months.
“Staff shortages continues to be the biggest challenge.
“Fife like many other areas across the UK is experiencing the impact of national shortages of key staff in this area. Recruitment of GPs and nursing staff remains a focus for us and feedback from the recent Joining Up Care consultation will help to inform how we move this forward. We will continually review performance over the next six months and provide an update at the end of July.”
The decision to close the service indefinitely has been widely criticised by community groups and politicians.
Jenny Gilruth, MSP for Glenrothes and Mid Fife accused health bosses of keeping the public in the dark over the future of the service in Fife.
She said: I’m hugely disappointed that Glenrothes Hospital’s GP Out-of-Hours remains closed.
“I have contacted Fife’s Health and Social care Partnership directly to ask for more information about timelines and when, exactly, my constituents can expect to see services resume.
“As far as I am aware, there remains to be no transport appraisal in place, and we are nearly a year on from when these closures began. The issues I raised in Parliament regarding the equality impact assessment have also not been addressed.
“We now need absolute transparency from the partnership.
“Given that Glenrothes and St Andrews have made their cases to NHS Fife’s board regarding participation, the partnership now needs to show how it intends to listen to the people of Fife.
“People are being left in the dark, when Fife deserves better.”