MSP Alex Rowley has demanded a meeting with NHS Fife bosses over concerns of deteriorating health services in the Kingdom.

Highlighting a lack of doctors to run surgeries and increasing difficulty in patients getting an appointment, he wants assurances from chief executive Carol Potter that the board are doing all they can to address the problems.

Requesting a face-to-face meeting, Mr Rowley wrote: "I note you have refused such requests in the last number of months but I would stress to you that NHS Fife is a public service funded by taxpayers and as such is accountable to the public through their elected representatives.

"I am very worried that the situation with GPs and local health services is getting worse, and I am requesting assurance and evidence that NHS Fife understand the issues and has plans in place to ensure no more practices collapse, leaving more communities with poor access to local health services, as we have seen in a number of communities across Fife."

He asked if work had been done to establish how many practices were "struggling to keep up with demand" and at risk of closing due to GPs leaving and not being replaced.

He also wanted to know how many docs were planning on going and what was proposed to address this.

Mr Rowley told the Press: "We already have five GP practices in Fife that have been taken over by NHS Fife because of a failure to recruit GPs.

"In these practices, staff are doing their very best but local communities find it challenging to get an appointment and services remain precarious.

"These are challenging times for our NHS in hospitals but also in local communities and is why we need absolute transparency so we can have the confidence that NHS bosses have matters under control.

"The alternative is more and more practices going to the wall with devastating consequences for people and a downward spiral of failings in all aspects of NHS care.

"This cannot be allowed to happen and is why we must be told the extent of the challenges and what is being done to address them."

The health board said that "at no point" had Ms Potter ever refused to meet Mr Rowley and that the chair and chief executive held regular monthly meetings with local politicians, including Mr Rowley, to discuss all aspects of health services, including the "ongoing pressures on GP practices".

As well as Valleyfield, the Linburn Road practice in Dunfermline and surgeries in Buckhaven, Kinghorn and Burntisland are controlled directly by NHS Fife.

Lisa Cooper, head of primary and preventative care for the Fife Health and Social Care Partnership, said: “We are acutely aware of the challenges that some patients are facing when trying to arrange a GP appointment in Fife.

“The Partnership and NHS Fife are currently responsible for the day-to-day management of five medical practices and are working continually to ensure appropriate medical cover is in place in each.

“In addition, we have taken a number of steps to help improve the level of service provided, including establishing a multi-disciplinary team of experienced and highly-skilled healthcare professionals to support these practices, which includes pharmacists, advanced nurse practitioners, physiotherapists and mental health nurses.

“We accept, however, that despite the considerable efforts of the practice teams, more needs to be done to improve the services provided in the medium term and find more sustainable GP cover for the longer term.

"This work is happening at pace, and we remain committed to ensuring that patients are kept informed of any notable developments regarding their practice.”