‘We’ll fight all the way on out of hours at hospital’

Tricia Marwick MSP and Lindsay Roy MP have joined forces to oppose plans to axe the out-of-hours GP service at Glenrothes Hospital.
Tricia Marwick MSP and Lindsay Roy MP have joined forces to oppose plans to axe the out-of-hours GP service at Glenrothes Hospital.

The town’s MP and MSP, councillors, and community activists- as well as many users - have all now united in opposing any relocation service to Kirkcaldy’s Victoria Hospital.

Last week, health professionals, in an exclusive interview with the ‘Gazette’, set-out their case for change.

They claimed the service provided at Glenrothes - the only ‘stand-alone’ primary care emergency service in Fife - wasn’t “fit for purpose.”

The Victoria option could offer what was effectively a ‘one stop’ shop for a full range of medical services to benefit patients, avoiding the need for transfers between different centres and, in particular, relieving the pressure on the ambulance service.

It’s a move that has not only angered the town’s representatives - MSP Tricia Marwick and MP Lindsay Roy , but has galvanised their resolve from across the political divide.

Said Mrs Marwick: “The reason that Lindsay and I are working together on this is because we are the representatives of this town and this community, all too often political differences are an obstacle to sensible thinking, but this issue transcends any political mandate.

“Fife Health Board have not yet made a credible case for the closure, and if that board are arguing that the service is unsafe then we are arguing that the solution is not to close it but put the necessary procedures in place- such as a minor injuries clinic that will satisfiy the clinicians and satisfy the community.

“If they’re saying that it is unsustainable to keep service as it currently is then you need to put other things in place.

“Both mine and Lindsay’s constituents, and everybody else that we have spoken to has confirmed that the solution is not to close the out-of-hours service down, but to introduce a minor injuries unit that will enhance the service that is already there.”

Both politicians feel that the case for closure is based on a false pretence as Mr Roy explained:

“All we have got is an assurtion that it is less safe than it should be”

“We feel that there has been an element of scaremongering about safety and security issues at the Glenrothes site, while in reality there is extreme satisfaction in the current service in Glenrothes, so why change change it.

“There seems to have been suggested that the service was clinically unsafe for some time, then if so, why has nothing been done about it?

“Neither of us have ever had a complaint about the out of hours service, the logical conclusion to this is is that if they feel as we believe they do, - that the Glenrothes service can not function effectively without being attached to an A&E then why hasn’t there been one , in all this time?

“Why hasn’t an alternative not been discussed before and why haven’t myself and Tricia, as representatives of the very people who that service is to serve, not been informed of their concerns earlier?

“Fife Health Board have said this is a ‘minor change’, well it may be in the global scheme of things as far as they are concerned, but for the people of Glenrothes it represents a massive change.”

The pair say they have been working closely with NHS Fife bosses for many years but on this issue have been expressing concerned for months.

The pair raised the issue of the lack of consultation and it was because of our concerns that there has finally been a consultation process put in place to discuss the proposals of an out-of-hours closure with the very communities that it will effect.

Furthermore the Gazette understands that a number of GPs were told as far back as April this year that the decision was going ahead, confirming a weight of perception amongst the medical profession that these changes were already all but agreed.

It’s something that both politicians believe to be totally unacceptable, and have called for NHS Fife bosses to explain their rationale for the Glenrothes service, compared to others in the region.

“Fife Health Board need to justify why they are sustaining a minor injuries clinic in St Andrews that serves 12,000 people, when they are not prepared to put one in Glenrothes to cater for upward of 65,000 people” said Mr Roy.

“The people of Glenrothes want to know where the motivation is coming from on this issue we have before us now.”

NHS Fife have denied that a final decision has been made on the move, but Susan Manion, the general manager leading the review, said the only two options were the switch to Kirkcaldy, or the status quo, with all the risks to patient safety and quality of service the latter entailed.

She also insisted that the consultation process for the proposed move had been pitched at the appropriate level - as a ‘public engagement exercise’ - and that the change was not driven by cost-cutting.

As opposition mounts, both politicians are worried of a potential knock on effect: “Ultimately it’s a matter of priorities and what they are doing is de-prioritising and de-valuing the people of Glenrothes. the service must be retained because of concerns that if it was taken away it will downgrade the facilities that are already at Glenrothes Hospital.”