DUNFERMLINE MSP Shirley-Anne Somerville has urged Fife Health and Social Care Partnership to rethink its policy on the reimbursement of patients for travel costs.

Contingency measures after overnight primary care out of hours services were suspended at Queen Margaret Hospital last month means that West Fifers need to travel to Victoria Hospital in the event of them needing to access overnight GP services.

The Partnership currently encourages patients to use a taxi or request a lift from family or friends in the event that they cannot drive themselves to an overnight appointment. 

However, concerns have been raised that the added distance and cost of taking a taxi to the Victoria Hospital may act as a barrier to people accessing the service, with a taxi costing upwards of £35.

To account for this increased cost, Shirley-Anne wants patients to be reimbursed for the price of taxi fares while the contingency measures are in place.

“It’s essential that Fife Health and Social Care Partnership has a change in its policy when it comes to reimbursing patients for taxi fares,” she said.

“It’s completely unacceptable that anyone should find themselves in a position where they can’t access overnight GP services simply because it would cost them too much.

“The Partnership itself envisages that a relatively low number of people will need to access these services over the coming months. If this is the case, then it shouldn’t be a problem for them to offer a little extra support to those affected by the contingency measures.

“People in Dunfermline and West Fife deserve to have access to a first class local health service and Fife Health and Social Care must take urgent steps to restore and improve services at Queen Margaret in order to ensure their sustainability going forward. But importantly, they need to ensure that residents can access the Victoria in the meanwhile.”