JOIN the fight to keep vital services in Queen Margaret Hospital. 

That’s the rallying cry ahead of a public meeting on Monday about the out of hours service at Dunfermline, with fears about moves to “centralise everything” in Kirkcaldy. 

West Fifers have been urged to air their views and help in the fight to make sure local hospital services are not lost in Dunfermline.

The meeting is being held in the town on Monday with the chance to listen to – and grill – representatives from the Fife Health and Social Care Partnership.

It will be hosted jointly by MSPs Alex Rowley and Shirley-Anne Somerville.

Mr Rowley told the Press: “These are community based services and to centralise everything to Kirkcaldy on the grounds that they have the surgeons and consultants, that is wrong but that is my fear.

“We need to build support across all political spectrums to say what kind of local community health and social care services we expect to see.

“We should be jointly saying we will resist any centralisation of services. The partnership will talk about difficulties in terms of recruiting GPs and recruiting specialist staff, and the Scottish Government have to get their act together on that, but at a local level we need to be united to keep these services local.”

NHS Fife said it was stopping the service for three months in Dunfermline due to nursing and medical staff shortages. The drastic contingency action was implemented after the partnership admitted they were unable to cover all overnight shifts, which they said could compromise patient safety.

Members of Fife’s Labour group were on Dunfermline High Street at the weekend with a petition aimed at saving the service.

Mr Rowley said: “It is important we have this public meeting and we engage widely across Dunfermline and West Fife. As soon as people saw the signs about saving our services, they were over and lining up to sign the petitions.

“It is an issue of concern for the public and rightly so. Hopefully from the public meeting, we can decide what is next in trying to protect some of these vital services.”

He warned: “The partnership intend to kick off a consultation over the summer looking more generally at all out of hours services in Fife. At the moment it’s available at Queen Margaret at the weekends and from 6pm until midnight but they are going to be coming under review with this consultation.”

Ms Somerville said it was essential that the partnership take the opportunity to have an “open and honest” conversation. It is local people that this decision is affecting, so it’s only right that residents’ thoughts and concerns are taken into consideration,” she said.

“We need assurances that in future, staffing pressures will not be allowed to build to the point where we experience this sort of problem again. This is an important chance for the partnership to outline the steps which are being taken in order to ensure that services will be reinstated as soon as possible.”

Dunfermline MP, Douglas Chapman, said: “I am less than convinced NHS Fife are playing this with a straight bat and I think they are cynically trying to cut services almost by stealth. According to NHS Fife’s own figures, we have more GPs in Fife now than we have had for some time and we are training and successfully recruiting more nurses.

“The last thing we want is GP burnout but the service could be maintained if even a few of the 68 Fife GPs who are currently not involved took on a small out of hours commitment to help continue the service.”

Ms Somerville also welcomed “clear assurances” that QMH’s Minor Injuries Unit will be maintained. Fears had been raised of its future but she said NHS Fife chief executive Paul Hawkins had given an “ongoing commitment”that it will remain open 24 hours a day and be staffed appropriately.

Monday’s meeting is in City Chambers from 7-9pm.