MSPs debate future of out-of-hours service in Fife

The MSPs debated the future of the service.
The MSPs debated the future of the service.

The Cabinet Secretary for health has been urged to step in if health bosses in Fife don’t listen to local objections to plans to close the out-of-hours service in St Andrews.

MSP Willie Rennie made the call during a debate at the Scottish Parliament on the issue of the future of the service in Fife.

More than 6400 people have backed Mr Rennie’s petition calling for plans to close the service at St Andrews Hospital to be scrapped. More have expressed their concerns through a postcard campaign in the East Neuk.

Hundreds of people from across north east Fife have also attended heated public meetings on the topic.

“If the Fife Health and Social Care Partnership does not make the right decision on this, and does not reflect on the huge opposition in east Fife, the Health Minister should step in and make sure they make the right decision,” Mr Rennie said.

“I’m calling on her to do this because it is such an important decision for the future of healthcare in Fife, and the community is evidently angry at the process thusfar.”

The debate, arranged by MSP Jenny Gilruth, whose Glenrothes constituency also faces losing its service, was attended by a number of Fife MSPs.

Murdo Fraser called on the partnership to reverse the proposed cuts for the sake of residents in north east Fife.

He said: “A future where people in the East Neuk have to travel significant distances to access out-of-hours care without access to public transport or affordable travel is simply not on.”

MSP Mark Ruskell urged the partnership to “go back to the drawing board” and assess the full range of options available.

The campaign was this week given the backing of the University of St Andrews rector. Srdja Popovic, who led the campaign in Serbia to bring to an end the dictatorship of Slobodan Milosovi in 2000, said he is “standing with the students and local community” in opposing the proposals.

He has now urged more students and locals to get behind the campaign.

“As many of you know, the out-of-hours GP service risks being taken out of St Andrews,” Mr Popovic said. “This would be a terrible thing for both locals and students, as without this service, the nearest one is over 45 minutes drive away. Buses do not run during the night

“I stand with the students and local community to keep the service in St Andrews, and I hope you will too.”