Fife health bosses accused of ‘closure by stealth’ as palliative care ward shut

Watch more of our videos on Shots! 
and live on Freeview channel 276
Visit Shots! now
A Fife MSP has accused health bosses of a lack of transparency over the closure of a palliative care ward in Dunfermline with patients transferred to Victoria Hospice in Kirkcaldy - 12 miles away.

The ward at Queen Margaret Hospital was used while the hospice was refurbished.

It closed in February, but Claire Baker, Labour MSP for Mid Scotland and Fife, has accused NHS Fife of “closure by stealth” - and criticised how it handled the announcement of the move.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

She said the closure was “ a huge blow” and added: “The lack of transparency around the move is a real concern. I have been calling for reassurance on the future of the ward since 2020, and when I wrote to NHS Fife at the end of January it gave no indication of the imminent plan to close it.

Queen Margaret Hospital, DunfermlineQueen Margaret Hospital, Dunfermline
Queen Margaret Hospital, Dunfermline

“There is a lack openness and transparency about the situation which is unacceptable. “

Ms Baker said the ward at Queen Margaret offered “vital and valued end of life care.” and added: “The reduction in hospice and palliative care wards will be difficult for families caring for their loved ones - we need to see an increase in care services which allow people to spend quality time together.

“Palliative care services should be delivered as locally as possible and people requiring palliative care should be able to make a choice as to where they want to receive that care. Having family members cared for at home is not an option for everyone and we must ensure that patients and their families can be offered end-of-life care in a setting that works for them.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

“The extended closure of the facility following the pandemic was regrettable and it is vital that we retain provision of specialised care which supports people in end-of-life situations across the region.

NHS Fife said the move was announced on its website and councillors were also briefed.

The work to determine the long-term future of in-patient end-of-life care was ongoing, with proposals due to go before its board later this year.

Lynne Garvey, head of community care services with Fife Health and Social Care Partnership, said: “We continue to see a sustained reduction in the demand for in-patient end-of-life care, with very many people wishing instead to be cared for at home.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

“Between 2019 and 2022 the average waiting times for an in-patient hospice bed in Fife halved, from an average of 3.4 days to 1.7 days.

“For those who are unable to, or who would prefer not to receive palliative care at home, there continues to be access to inpatient palliative and end-of-life care within wards five and six at Queen Margaret Hospital, in addition to Victoria Hospice.”