Out-of-hours closures are “worrying development”

Lesley Laird MP has expressed fears that a “deepening NHS crisis” could see a permanent closure of out-of-hours services in Fife’s community hospitals.

Earlier this week Fife Health and Social Care Partnership announced that due to “staffing difficulties” from Monday, April 9, Primary Care Emergency Services would no longer operate from midnight to 8am.

The hospitals affected by the three-month long contingency plan are Queen Margaret Hospital in Dunfermline, Glenrothes Community Hospital and St Andrews community Hospital.

People seeking help from NHS 24 within those times will be directed to Victoria Hospital, Kirkcaldy. 

Lesley said: “We’re well aware, given the difficulty constituents report in getting a GP appointment, that Fife doesn’t have enough GPs to serve the population adequately. And now we’re seeing the out-of-hours services being closed due to recruitment difficulties.

“This is a worrying development – and clearly illustrates just how much the NHS staffing crisis is deepening in Fife.

“While assurances have been given that the PCES overnight closures are a temporary measure, I’m not confident that this will be the case.

“I’ve written to the Michael Kellet, director of the Health and Social Care Partnership, asking why agency staff could not have been employed to bridge this problem and keep services open.”

Lesley added: “These closures will also impact on the teams working at Victoria Hospital in Kirkcaldy and I’ve sought assurances that staff there can cope with a rise in numbers.

“I’ve also asked – and this is a question I come back to many, many times – what strategy is in place in Fife to recruit more medical staff across the board?  Given this announcement what is the true scale of the resourcing challenge in Fife and what other service cuts will we see?”