OUT-OF-POCKET patients are being backed by Dunfermline's MSP after out of hours service cuts at Queen Margaret Hospital.

Shirley-Anne Somerville is urging Fife Health and Social Care Partnership to revisit their decision not to reimburse taxi costs to patients travelling to Kirkcaldy following the move.

West Fifers have to travel to Victoria Hospital for access to overnight GP services after they were suspended in Dunfermline in April.

Ms Somerville commented: “The solution to the current taxi cost challenge is, of course, to see the reintroduction of out-of-hours services at the Queen Margaret Hospital.

“It’s time that Fife Health and Social Care Partnership gave a commitment to the residents of Dunfermline and West Fife to restore the Queen Margaret Hospital to a full-time out-of-hours facility with an integrated minor injuries unit.

“In the meantime, Fife Health and Social Care Partnership need to look again at the implications that accessing out-of-hours services in Kirkcaldy has for residents of West Fife. The cost involved in taxi fares to and from Kirkcaldy can be substantial, particularly for people and families who have no disposable income.”

The partnership revealed its ‘Joining Up Care’ consultation highlighting two possible ways forward.

One would see care provided at both Queen Margaret and Victoria hospitals but the other would result in just one overnight urgent care centre in Kirkcaldy.

They previously stated they would not consider covering transport costs for patients, despite “clear support” from MSPs during a debate at the Scottish Parliament last Tuesday as the consultation period came to an end.

Ms Somerville added: “Fears have been raised with me by constituents that, should they need to travel to Kirkcaldy to access these services, they simply wouldn’t be able to meet the cost.

"This would leave them in a position where they either cannot access the medical care they need or would have no option but to place a 999 call for an ambulance.

“It is vital that Fife Health and Social Care Partnership look again at ways they can help patients meet the cost of a taxi to the Victoria Hospital site whilst emergency contingency measures are in force.

“That’s why I’m urging the Partnership to consider ways of building this into its out-of-hours service delivery plan.”