CANCER sufferers and women who’ve had a miscarriage may be forced to share a hospital unit with new mums and their babies according to one health campaigner.

The woman, who wanted to remain anonymous, contacted the Press to raise her concerns over plans which could see Victoria Hospital’s gynaecology ward move into the maternity department. 

She claimed that would have serious practical and psychological effects on patients and said: “I don’t think that it is acceptable to put gynaes in with maternity.

"Maternity is not an illness or a disease and what you are bringing into the ward is infection and people who maybe have open wounds and it is not acceptable to do that.

“People having hysterectomies will be hearing babies cry. Psychologically, it is not good for either side. As well, the maternity ward is a secure ward which you have to ring and wait to stop strangers coming in but if you mix that with another department, it is not a good idea.” 

The campaigner, who has previously been involved in the Fife Health Council as a layperson, said maternity services were already stretched.

“The Victoria Hospital is packed all the time. It is squashing maternity further which isn’t good. This move seems to be to make things easier for the doctors, not for the patients.

"The gynaecology consultants who are also obstetricians can dot along the corridor and that is just not on. 

“They (NHS Fife) just want people to accept their actions and don’t realise they are accountable to us. It is our money they are spending.”

NHS Fife’s chief operating officer, Jann Gardner, confirmed they were undertaking a new programme of work within acute services to optimise clinical care and use of their facilities.

“Key staff from across clinical services and planning have been involved in this work and our staff will continue to play a crucial role as we continue to develop this programme further,” she said.

“In the coming months, we will see clinical wards within the tower block begin to move to new areas. These moves will allow better co-location of services and reduce the need for patients to be moved around the hospital as part of their care.

“The safety and fabric of our buildings are maintained at a safe level at all times.

“As part of the work, we are considering the co-location of gynaecology and obstetric services.

“We are acutely aware of the importance of placing our patients in the right place, where patient experience, quality of care and dignity can be maintained. Patient safety will be at the heart of any changes.”

Dunfermline MSP Shirley-Anne Somerville said patients and staff had raised concerns about the proposals. 

“To ensure that patient confidence in these services remains high, it’s extremely important that NHS Fife are seen to respond to these questions,” she said. 

“I have highlighted this matter with NHS Fife, who have since provided assurances that the concerns raised by my constituents have been taken into consideration in this decision-making process.”

Cowdenbeath MSP Annabelle Ewing, urged NHS Fife to show caution.
“Whilst looking at the issue in simplistic terms, there certainly seems, on the surface, to be good reasons why gynaecology and maternity services should be co-located,” she said. “But this is not, in fact, a simple issue.

“There are complex issues to be addressed and the concerns raised must be treated sensitively and taken very seriously indeed.”

Claire Baker MSP said she planned to seek assurances that health bosses will “seriously look” for an alternative option to the proposal.

“NHS Fife must ensure that patient safety, care and wellbeing is a prominent factor in any decisions taken,” she said.

“However, questions must be asked if this is the case when patients are in the dark about proposed changes and instead are relying on rumours and word of mouth. I recognise and share the concerns over moving obstetrics and gynaecology and co-locating the two services.”