LESS than 15 per cent of phone calls to a West Fife health centre are being answered.

The issue at the Valleyfield surgery was raised at a meeting of Fife Council on Thursday by West Fife and Coastal Villages councillor Graeme Downie has asked for action to improve the situation.

As reported previously by the Press, ongoing problems with staffing levels at the surgery – which now only has one GP – has meant patients have been unable to book advanced appointments.

They then face trying to secure an appointment at an 8am 'free-for-all' which has seen those with non-urgent medical issues being put to the back of the queue.

The council's spokesperson for health and social care, Councillor David Graham, said it was an "important" issue which needed to be addressed.

"There is a UK-wide shortage of general practitioners and it is something I have raised for quite a number of years regarding workforce planning," he told councillors. "Work is ongoing to hopefully improve things and move forward."

Cllr Downie said the situation in Valleyfield had been raised "constantly" with him since the local elections in May.

"I will not stop fighting until NHS Fife show me their plan to improve the situation," he said. “I am grateful for the support of Cllr Graham because local people are telling me that lives are being put at risk by the current situation.

"Fife Labour will work together with the local community to ensure NHS Fife take immediate action to help give local people the GP service they need and deserve.”