“I don’t believe that there is enough funding within the health and social care services to meet the needs of people in Fife”. Alex Rowley
I am increasingly concerned about the number of issues being raised with me around the experience of patients in the Victoria Hospital . I have also received a number of communications from staff within the hospital who are worried about the levels of overcrowding, under staffing and lack of beds.
I should add that many say, ‘please don’t give our names’, as there seems to be a culture of fear and worry of intimidation if anyone does speaks out.
The overwhelming majority of staff in NHS Fife are dedicated, hard working and conscientious and therefore we know there are issues if they are at the point of taking the step to raise their concerns.
In the lead up to Christmas there were almost 10% of patients waiting more than four hours to be seen at accident and emergency and this breach of the 4-hours continued into the New Year. It is a fact that last week NHS Fife had to postpone elective surgeries at the Victoria hospital over two days and whilst more beds were made available and extra staff brought in, the pressure on staff remains.
We have also seen some of the individual cases that have been flagged up where complaints have been made to the NHS Fife management where people have had bad experiences being highlighted through the local press.
I am of the view that serious questions need to be asked about the current state of NHS services within our hospitals in Fife and the ability of NHS Fife to meet the health needs of the people of Fife.
There are also concerns about overcrowding in the wards with more patients than beds and places and the
immense pressure this is putting on staff. I have been told of people being left on trolleys for hours and people being left in corridors.
I am told that day beds are now being used to accommodate hospital patients which in turn must have a knock on impact on day services. I understand that additional beds have been made available by opening up a ward in the tower block.
I think we really need to get to the bottom of what is going on and find out whether the current service is fit for
its purpose which is to meet the health needs of the people of Fife; or has the numbers of beds and therefore staff been cut below that which is capable of meeting the health needs of Fife. I raised concerns a number of months ago about the assumption that had been made to take 300 further beds out the system as part of the change fund health and social care integration. Interestingly many within health and social care in Fife are now expressing the same view that this is looking increasingly like wishful thinking rather than something that could actually happen.
Currently the Councils social work budget is running with a large overspend and a large part of that is as a result of the additional beds above what was budgeted for that we are purchasing in care homes to support more people to get out of hospital and the additional care packages above budget that we are putting in place to support people staying at home and to get more people out of hospital. Given these overspends, we are not in a position to keep overspending and therefore if we are to get more people from hospitals into community settings then we really need to see money coming from the NHS. Care in the community was never care on the cheap nor was it local authorities taking over the role without the money transferring.
I am really concerned about the levels of reductions in beds and we need to bottom out how many beds and staff have been taken out the system and what the current state of play is. I am aware that Jayne Baxter MSP wrote to John Wilson on the 17 December requesting details of the sickness levels at the Victoria Hospital and as yet has not received a reply.
As Fife Councils representative on NHS Fife Board and as the Chairman of the Health and Social Care partnership I have asked Cllr Andrew Rodger to look into all these issues. I believe we need full transparency around all issues of health and social care in Fife . We need to know the numbers of beds and staff and is this enough to meet the health needs of the people of Fife . We need to know if there is overcrowding and we need to know the levels of complaints and more important the detail of the complaints,
are people being left in corridors and are wards over crowded.
I don’t believe that there is enough funding within the health and social care services to meet the needs of people in Fife. This set against a growing older population means that we do need change and we must be more pro-active in providing preventative approached to health and social care, but in the meantime we need to ensure the correct levels of funding and that the funding is being directed in the right areas to provide the appropriate care in the appropriate place.