Late bid made to save St Andrews’ out-of-hours service

St Andrews Hospital.
St Andrews Hospital.

St Andrews’ community council has launched a late bid to save the out-of-hours service in the town.

The Royal Burgh of St Andrews Community Council sent a formal participation request, invoking the Community Empowerment Act, to request involvement in the redesign of the service to Fife Health & Social Care Partnership at the start of November.

The act allows ‘community participation bodies’ to make a request to public authorities to permit them to be involved in decision-making processes.

The partnership is due to make a decision on December 20 regarding the future of the out-of-hours service in St Andrews. It is proposing to centralise the service at both Dunfermline’s Queen Margaret Hospital and Kirkcaldy’s Victoria Hospital, or just the latter.

NHS Fife has received the request and is due to make a decision on it in ‘due course’.

“We hope it will be accepted because we are doing a lot of work to back up our arguments,” explained Penelope Fraser, vice-chair of the community council. “We want to see if we can get some discussion going and come up with a solution acceptable to all partners.

“We would have to see what’s on the table and what’s feasible and take it from there.”

The request from the community council follows petitions, protests and more in a bid to stop the proposed closure of the service in St Andrews. The effort has seen politicians, students, residents, the university, and community councillors across north east Fife united in opposition to the plans.

“The pulling together of all the communities in the area has been unprecedented,” Ms Fraser added. “Everyone has been involved in some way or another. It shows the strength of community feeling.”

Tricia Marwick, NHS Fife chair, said the body had received the request on Friday and was “seeking legal advice and clarification before arriving at a decision”.

She added: “It is important that both the applicant and the IJB members are advised whether NHS Fife accepts this participation request in advance of any decisions on Joining Up Care by the IJB. However, no further meeting of the NHS Fife Board is scheduled until January.

“The decision whether to accept the partnership request has therefore been delegated to me as chair, the chief executive of NHS Fife, and the chairs of the relevant governance committees, and will be made in due course.”