Fife Hospitals and Legacy of ‘Right for Fife’

Dunfermline MSP Bill Walker has responded to a Labour Fife councillor’s criticisms of the Victoria Hospital by pointing out that the decision to shift services from Dunfermline’s Queen Margaret Hospital to Kirkcaldy was made by Labour.

Alex Rowley, the Labour group leader, had complained about his elderly mother’s recent experiences at the Victoria and about the number of complaints received by NHS Fife since the transfer in January this year.

Mr Walker commented: “I was surprised to read my former Dunfermline Parliamentary opponent Alex Rowley’s criticisms in the Dunfermline Press last week.

“I have great sympathy with his mother and with others who have had problems since the hospital transfer.  The SNP is doing its best with the difficult legacy of Labour’s decision to, in political speak, ‘modernise’ Fife hospitals.

“I wonder if Alex Rowley has forgotten that the idea to transfer services from the Queen Margaret to the Victoria, such as have transferred, was the brainchild of the Labour-led NHS Fife under their ‘Right for Fife’ project, which Alex Rowley supported.

“This project was given the green light in 2002 and began the process of downgrading the Queen Margaret to provide non-specialist acute inpatient beds, as well as services such as a Minor Injuries Unit and Outpatient Clinic, while the Victoria would provide specialist in-patient and trauma services.

“Transferring so many services from Dunfermline was not a decision I would have endorsed.  However, when the first SNP Government was elected in 2007 the project under PPP finance was too far gone to change or cancel Labour’s decision.

Mr Walker added: “I was also surprised by Alex Rowley’s calls for the Health Secretary to investigate the complaints raised since the transfer of services.  As a politician, he should be well aware that the Health Secretary can’t investigate every complaint raised to every health board. He should be looking for answers instead from the executive directors and management of NHS Fife.

“Nicola Sturgeon is doing a laudable job under extremely difficult circumstances put in place by Labour.   I believe we should at least try to focus on the positive aspects of the transfer and on where improvements can be made, rather than the constant negativity we have come to expect from Labour.”

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