HEALTH chiefs "cannot give a timescale" as to when chemotherapy treatment will return to the Queen Margaret Hospital. 

Since January 2016, patients from West Fife with cancer have had to go to the Victoria Hospital in Kirkcaldy for care. 

Intravenous chemotherapy treatment was "temporarily" removed from the Dunfermline site due to staff shortages but it has never returned and there are concerns that it never will. 

At NHS Fife's annual review on Thursday, former board member John Winton said: "In January 2016, it was announced that chemotherapy day treatment would be moved from QMH to the Vic. 

"At the time, I was told they hoped to have it back around April or May 2016, the next time I asked it was October 2016 and nothing has happened. 

"When will this service come back to Dunfermline? Is this a move to take it away and centralise the service in Kirkcaldy or are you just that short of staff?"

Director of clinical delivery, Andrea Wilson, replied and said she "cannot give a timescale" on when services would return to Dunfermline: 

She said: "We are committed to continuing to deliver chemotherapy in QMH in line with what is safe and achievable. 

"No decision has been made to remove chemotherapy in total from Dunfermline."

She admitted they had experienced recruitment problems but staff had now been enlisted and were going through training. 

Ms Wilson added: "Oncology treatments in Fife and across Scotland are much more complex than they were. 

"Therefore our ability to deliver what used to be delivered on sites like QMH is limited by those complexities."

When they made the announcement in January 2016, NHS Fife said that intravenous chemotherapy treatment must be administered by a specialist team of highly-trained nursing and medical staff. 

However, due to staff shortages and rising demand, it had become necessary to "consolidate treatment at a single site" to maintain the provision of "high-quality, safe and effective care". 

Although chemotherapy treatment went east, all blood transfusions and oral treatments continue to be provided at QMH. 

At that time, NHS Fife said they were "working to resume the full service at Queen Margaret Hospital". 

Mr Winton, a member of Local Health Concern, told the Press this week: "Every time we've tried to raise this they've got quite narky. I think they've found it's more cost-effective to keep it at the Vic and I wonder if this service will come back.

"The hint I got was to do with the pharmacy as they have to make up chemo packages on site and I got the impression they were short of staff, or trained staff, to do this. 

"So I don't know if it's a lack of staff, which would make it unsafe, or if it's purely down to saving money.

"The odd thing is, from speaking to them and from what I know, half of the staff actually come from West Fife!"