Concerns voiced about out-of-hours service at packed St Andrews meeting

The out-of-hours meeting in St Andrews.
The out-of-hours meeting in St Andrews.

Health bosses have been urged to cancel plans to shut St Andrews Hospital’s out-of-hours service, following a packed meeting this week.

Hundreds of people attended a public consultation at Madras College on Monday evening, sharing their concerns about proposals to end the service.

Such was the interest in the meeting that it had to be moved from the town hall, where it was originally supposed to be held, to the school, due to the attendance.

Local politicians, GPs, nurses and residents shared their concerns about the proposed closure of the service.

MSP Willie Rennie, whose petition calling for the service to be saved has been signed by more than 4400 people, said representatives from Fife Health and Social Care Partnership “were left in no doubt about the strength of opposition to their plans”.

He added: “The message is clear from St Andrews – hands off our GP out-of-hours services. There were many valuable contributions, notably a former GP who said the plan put forward was not safe. Several people pointed out that the problem was not caused in north east Fife but it is this area that is now losing out.

“St Andrews needs an out-of-hours locally. If the crowd at the meeting are listened to, these proposals will be rejected.”

The current proposals include two options – a service at Dunfermline’s Queen Margaret Hospital and at Kirkcaldy’s Victoria Hospital, or just a service at the latter.

Following the meeting, the three East Neuk councillors – Linda Holt, John Docherty and Bill Porteous – called for a special meeting of the North East Fife Area Committee, so its members could grill the director of the Fife Health and Social Care Partnership, Michael Kellet.

Cllr Jane Ann Liston spoke at the meeting, noting that councillors had asked for a third option, retaining a service in north east Fife, to be included.

She added: “We understand that local GPs say they are willing and able to operate this service out of St Andrews, filling all the slots. As the main problem has been getting GPs to fill gaps in the rest of Fife, it seems perverse to shut the out-of-hours operation where the local doctors are most committed to running it.”