Fife health crisis: warning of ‘unrelenting’ pressure on hospitals

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Fife’s hospitals and health care services are facing “unrelenting” pressures on the back of two extended Bank Holiday weekends over the festive period - and health bosses have warned of a tough winter ahead.

NHS Fife said it was continuing to tackle “the significant and unprecedented challenges” on its services as A&E deals with record numbers, and many more acutely unwell need admission to hospital after contracting COVID-19, flu and other seasonal illnesses.

It paid tribute to its staff who are in the frontline, and urged Fifers to play their part by getting vaccinate, and know where to go for help.

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The update comes as the latest data showed that the Victoria Hospital in Kirkcaldy saw just 48% of A&E patients within the prescribed four-hour Scottish Government target. In April 2019 - the last full year before the pandemic - they were hitting 94.7% of their target.

Victoria Hospital, KirkcaldyVictoria Hospital, Kirkcaldy
Victoria Hospital, Kirkcaldy

Fife’s average ambulance response time is 7.08 minutes - slower than the six minutes set by national guidelines to reach people with life-threatening conditions. These are classified as ‘purple incidents’

It’s a picture repeated across many Scottish health boards.

Janette Keenan, director of nursing, said everything possible is being done to maintain services and also praised the ongoing efforts of staff.

“We expected that this winter would be as challenging as we have ever faced,” she said. “Unfortunately, that is reflected in the pressures we are seeing at present, despite the additional capacity we have created across the system.

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“Our staff are working incredibly hard in hugely difficult circumstances. Their continued dedication and their efforts to try and provide patients with good quality care, despite the incredible pressures on services, is hugely appreciated. I’d like to thank them all for the unwavering effort they continue to make as we move into another busy and demanding month.”

She urged Fifers to help by alleviating pressure on the system where possible.

“We appreciate that patients are very often waiting longer to be seen at present,” she said. “We’d like to thank people for their patience and provide the assurance that we are doing all we possibly can to ensure people are seen as quickly as possible, with those who are most unwell prioritised to be seen first.

“Everyone can help healthcare services in Fife by playing their part – this means ensuring you get your Covid and flu vaccinations and knowing where to go for help should you need it, for example.

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“Our emergency department continues to be extremely busy and it remains vital that those with a life-threatening emergency ensure they call 999 so that they can be seen as quickly as possible.

“For those who need assessment but it's not critical or life-threatening, please instead call NHS 24 on 111, day or night, where you will be redirected to the most appropriate service for your needs.”

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