Breakthrough hailed in hospital campaign

Tricia Marwick MSP and Lindsay Roy MP at Glenrothes Hospital.
Tricia Marwick MSP and Lindsay Roy MP at Glenrothes Hospital.

CAMPAIGNERS against proposals to close a “vital” out-of-hours hospital service have welcomed a victory for people power following an apparent U-turn by NHS bosses.

Kennoway residents have joined forces with those in Glenrothes and the Howe of Fife to fight plans to re-locate the out-of-hours GP service at Glenrothes Hospital to the Victoria Hospital in Kirkcaldy.

However, in a surprise move by NHS Fife, the period of consultation over the closure plans has been extended.

And a final decision, expected in the new year, is to be made by the full board and not by the local community health partnership, as originally planned.

A public meeting was held last week, after the announcement, and attended by senior NHS Fife representatives, despite previous indications that they would not be present.

Chair of NHS Fife’s board, Professor James McGoldrick, had said when the proposal was first mooted, the board was advised by the Scottish Health Council that it did not constitute a major service change.

But having listened to the views of residents, it had been decided to extend the consultation, while the full board would make the final decision.

He said: “It is our intention not to make any decision until we have concluded this wider consultation exercise, as we work with the local community to ensure services are safe, effective and person-centred.

“NHS Fife is committed to listening to the communities’ views and any proposal for changes to health care and I reiterate that the Board will not make a decision on these issues until we have heard what everyone has to say.”

Alison Simpson, secretary of Kennoway Community Council, said it “could only be a good decision” to extend the consultation.

She added it made no sense for a west Fife community health partnership to make the final ruling, so it was right that the full board should decide.

However, Mrs Simpson added: “Whether we will be able to change their minds or not, I don’t know.”

More talks are being pursued by local politicians with NHS Fife after last week’s meeting, which some local campaigners had described as “noisy”.