NHS Fife accused of keeping public 'in the dark'

NHS FIFE has been accused of keeping the public "in the dark" over changes to services within its hospitals.

Concerns over communication between the health board and the Kingdom's residents were brought to the attention of Secretary of Health and Wellbeing Nicola Sturgeon yesterday (Wednesday).

The matter was raised at a meeting of the Scottish Health Campaigns Network following a catalogue of complaints surrounding public information from NHS Fife.

The meeting followed a report in The Fife Free Press last month, in which it was revealed that drug users' services would soon temporarily be moved to Kirkcaldy's Forth Park Maternity Hospital.

Nearby residents were angered by the lack of consultation over the move, and neither local councillors nor MSP Marilyn Livingstone had been informed.

Local Health Concern Fife highlighted this example, along with several others, including the transfer of acute services to Kirkcaldy's Victoria Hospital and the axing of Dunfermline's Queen Margaret Hospital A&E department.

John Winton of the group said: "Due to the various delays, people in this area are becoming totally unaware of the date of transfer of acute services to Kirkcaldy and subsequent introduction of new services to Queen Margaret.

"We feel that NHS Fife, far from engaging with the population on the changes, seems to be going out of their way to keep people in the dark."

A spokesman for NHS Fife said: "NHS Fife continues to consult with the public and communities we serve across Fife, on all of our major investment and service re-design projects.

"The Board of NHS Fife approved the Right for Fife strategy, following extensive 'Fife wide' consultation in March 2002. The consultation process is an ongoing one and is updated as and when required.

"We remain on track for the new extension for Victoria Hospital to be brought into service during 2011.

"This timetable has been in the public domain for some considerable period of time."