Three Fife hospitals close out-of-hours services over staff shortage

Three Fife hospitals have been forced to close out-of-hours service due to a shortage of staff, it has been revealed

The closure of the service at the three hospitals will mean that only one hospital in Fife will be providing services between midnight and 8am.

Glenrothes Hospital, St Andrews Hospital, and Queen Margaret in Dunfermline will all be affected by the closures.

Kirkcaldy’s Victoria Hospital will now be the only medical centre dealing with emergencies in the whole of Fife during the night hours.

The Minor Injuries Unit at Queen Margaret Hospital will continue as normal.

The changes come into effect from next Monday, April 9, with workers only being told last night that they could potentially be moved.

Dr Alan McGovern

Dr Alan McGovern

Fife Health and Social Care Partnership say they are introducing the contingency measures overnight in the Primary Care Emergency Services (PCES) in response to “nursing and medical staffing difficulties”.

PCES (commonly called out-of-hours services) provides urgent care to the people of Fife when GP practices are closed. Contact with the service is via NHS24, with urgent care provided by a team of healthcare professionals in centres across Fife.

The contingency measure will be in place for a three month period, while efforts will be made to resolve the staffing issues.

Dr Alan McGovern, Clinical Director (West Division), Fife Health and Social Care Partnership stated: “The safety of every single patient is in Fife is our first priority.

As with most areas in Scotland, difficulty in recruiting GPs and Primary Care medical staff for out of hours work has put enormous pressure on delivering the service.

“In Fife, the out of hours service has only been able to maintain cover through daily monitoring and enormous efforts by all staff. Unfortunately we are now in a position where we are unable to cover all the overnight shifts, meaning we have had to move to contingency measures to ensure patient safety.

“Between midnight and 8.00am, around 11 people attend Queen Margaret Hospital, Glenrothes Hospital and St Andrews centres in any one night. They will now go to the centre at the Victoria Hospital, Kirkcaldy. Home visits, for those who require them, will not be affected.”

Michael Kellet, Director, Fife Health and Social Care Partnership said: “We’ve had to take immediate action in relation to Primary Care Emergency Services in Fife to ensure we can continue to deliver a clinically safe and sustainable service over the next few months.

“As we do so we will continue to develop our plans for the longer term measure for urgent care. We will consult the public on those longer term plans before any permanent decisions are made.”