Dunfermline Press Column 19th June 2014: Health Issues and Edinburgh Trams Access

NHS Understaffed 

This week I have a question tabled in the Parliament which states; “To ask the Scottish Government at what percentage of staffed bed capacity the Victoria Hospital in Kirkcaldy is operating.”

I understand that the preferred capacity for the hospital to operate at is 85% and whilst I will wait on the answer I have concerns it is operating at a higher rate putting immense pressure on staff. When we had some of the major issues last year at the Victoria Hospital there were periods where it was said to be operating at 120% capacity. I have also written to NHS Fife asking them to confirm the number of vacant consultants posts in Fife that have not been filled and the impact this has both on the service being provided and the costs to the budget. I believe that there are currently over 40 consultants posts not filled and that where locums are used this is at a significant increase in costs putting even great pressure on budgets at a time when there is a major gap in the monies needed to fund community care. There are major pressures on our health services and their ability to access qualified staff but the government seem to be in denial which is not good given the need to put workforce planning in place that will see more people supported and qualified in the medical professions. I am also trying to seek clarification on the assumptions around costs that were made when the plans were agreed to transfer A&E and the majority of acute service to one site at the Victoria Hospital. If the modelling took no account of delayed discharges then this is a flaw that could explain why there is an issue with patients being boarded from ward to ward and again puts immense pressure on staff not to mention the fact that this is not good practice for patients. I am due to meet with the CEO of NHS Fife later this month and will be discussing these issues with him. Whilst I am always thankful for the hard work and dedication of staff working and caring for others I am worried that there are pressures on our health and care services in Fife that are not being addressed and as such can only get worse.

A web site called patients opinion www.patientopinion.org.uk enables people to registers theirs or their families experience accessing the NHS and then notifies the Board and local politicians of comments good and bad posted. I believe that the NHS is the greatest creation of the 20th century and the envy of the world and as such must be protected through being open, transparent and accountable to the people. The people working in the frontline of the NHS are working under immense pressure but those responsible for the funding and management seem reluctant to even acknowledge the kind of difficulties and pressures being experienced. This must change.


You can read more of my regular submissions to the Dunfermline press here:  http://www.dunfermlinepress.com/opinion/



Edinburgh Trams

I have been contacted by a number of constituents raising their unhappiness that the new Edinburgh Trams concessionary fare scheme is only accessible to Edinburgh residents and does not incorporate the national scheme. I did contact Edinburgh Council who said that they had understood the national scheme would apply but this is no longer the case so they have put in £200,000 a year to fund the concession for all Edinburgh residents who qualify under the national concession scheme. The Scottish Government have confirmed in a written answer to a question I tabled that the Trams are not part of the national scheme and will not be funded to offer concessionary travel.

Post Author: Alex Rowley