St Andrews students protest out-of-hours service proposals

Students protested outside Victoria Hospital over proposals to close the out-of-hours service at St Andrews Hospital.
Students protested outside Victoria Hospital over proposals to close the out-of-hours service at St Andrews Hospital.

More than a dozen students demonstrated outside Fife’s main hospital, protesting the proposed closure of the out-of-hours service in St Andrews.

The University of St Andrews students gathered outside Kirkcaldy’s Victoria Hospital and protested for around three hours.

Their protest followed months of objections from local residents, thousands of whom signed a petition, politicians, GPs, and more.

The protest was organised by Nick Farrer, the director of well-being at the student association.

“It’s good to get some support,” he told the Citizen.

“We’ve had a few people stopping us and asking what the protest is all about.”

A consultation organised by Fife Health and Social Care Partnership earlier this year had no option to retain a service at St Andrews Hospital. It only included options for a service at both Victoria Hospital and Dunfermline’s Queen Margaret Hospital, or just one at the former.

Nick said students were concerned about the prospect of having to travel to Kirkcaldy for the service.

“It is also distressing because we have neighbours who don’t have cars or live alone,” he continued.

“We’re worried about that.

“It’s good that the university has said it will pay for students to get to Kirkcaldy or Dundee, but a lot of students are not aware of this. There will also be people who don’t want to bother their warden and will try to sleep it off. And the university can only look after students – but what about locals?”

Nick said he did believe Fife Health and Social Care Partnership was listening to the concerns of the students, but added: “Whether that amounts to anything is why we’re out here.”

The University of St Andrews has voiced its concerns about the proposed closure of the service in the past.

A spokesperson for the university said: “The university has been made aware of disquiet in the student and staff populations at the closure which occurred before the consultation process even started. Of particular concern has been the lack of a consultation option of re-opening the facility. Since our first statement it is now indicated that the MIU will be at risk.

“The University contributes immensely to the Fife economy and yet our distinct demographic profile – and that of the local population which features much of the aged residents of Fife – has not been taken into consideration in this service closure. We would voice a need for a reversal of the closure as soon as possible.”

In response to the protest, Michael Kellet, director of the Fife Health and Social Care Partnership, stated: “Out of hours is an important subject. The views of University of St Andrews students will be incorporated with all the feedback received throughout the consultation process.

“No decision has been made regarding the proposals and the Health and Social Care Partnership is currently reviewing all the views submitted – the outcome of this will be presented to the Integration Joint Board on December 20.”