Scottish health secretary urged to save GP out-of-hours service

The Courier has reported that Scottish residents are urging the health secretary to ensure a GP out-of-hours service isn’t closed down

Scotland’s health secretary, Jeane Freeman, has been urged to stop GP out-of-hours services in St Andrews from being permanently closed.

The out-of-hours services at St Andrews and Glenrothes hospitals were closed temporarily in April, due to staff shortages.

The public has expressed outrage at the idea of these services only being available at Victoria Hospital in Kirkcaldy or Queen Margaret Hospital in Dunfermline.

Student leaders and the area’s MSP are calling on Freeman, who visited St Andrews University yesterday, to reinstate primary care emergency services at St Andrews Community Hospital.

It is believed that permanently closing the facility would endanger patients in the area, who face a long journey to Kirkcaldy in an emergency.

Paloma Paige, president of St Andrews Students’ Association, said:

“It is clear to us that the closure presents a serious threat to the health of all residents in north-east Fife, particularly those who are already vulnerable, including students and the elderly.

“We fully back a call for the health secretary to halt Fife Health and Social Care Partnership’s plans to close the service.”

North East Fife MSP, Willie Rennie, added:

“The health secretary has the power to order the Fife Health and Social Care Partnership to cease their plans.

“She should take the opportunity whilst visiting St Andrews to order them to stop.

“People in the town are furious that we have a relatively new hospital, but the health authorities are stripping services out of it already.

“We have a unique mix of elderly people and young students combined with a rural and remote hinterland.

“Local GPs are prepared to step up to provide a local service but the health partnership only plan to provide the service out of Kirkcaldy and Dunfermline.

“The health secretary should step in before it is too late.”

Rennie will hand over a petition signed by thousands of people later this month.

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