Protests are not, I have to admit, my natural habitat. Despite being stridently political and almost constantly pissed off at some injustice or other, I’ve tended to vent my frustrations in other ways, whether it be door-to-door canvassing, organising petitions, or annoying my classmates at school until most of them blocked me on Facebook. However, this Tuesday I ended up standing in the rain, in the outskirts of Kirkcaldy holding a sign reading “Not sure you’ve thought this through, lads” in one hand, and a huge cardboard gravestone in the other, protesting the removal of the GP out of Hours service from St Andrews. I know, I know- weird flex. But let me explain how I got there.
For the past couple of years, hospitals in Fife have been dealing with staffing shortages. There are a couple of reasons for this, from the financial to the geographical. And anyone trying to deal with these problems was going to have to make some hard decisions. The Fife Health and Social Care Partnership, however, have decided to make the worst one possible, by centralising all GP Out of Hours Services to Kirkcaldy and Dunfermline. Not only will this not solve staffing issues across Fife (Most of the GP’s at the St Andrews Community Hospital would rather stay in the East Neuk, and are more likely to move to Edinburgh or Dundee than Kirkcaldy), it will also bring with it a whole host of new problems. Kirkcaldy is an hour’s drive from St Andrews. If, like most students, you don’t have a car, and can’t afford the hefty taxi cost, then it takes twice as long by bus. I’m type one diabetic. If I have an attack of ketoasidosis or hypoglycaemia, that could be a fatally long two hours.
That’s why I helped pack a public meeting with students, and shouted about my physical and mental health problems in front of a room of strangers. That’s why I’ve talked to literally hundreds of people, both face to face and over social media, to get them to sign a petition to keep the GP out of Hours service in St Andrews. And that’s why me, and about a dozen other St Andrews students went to Kirkcaldy this week in order to make our opposition heard to those making the decision. In an ideal world, they’d have seen our passion, our concern, and our witty protest signs, and listened to us. But this is not an ideal world, so they didn’t even come to speak to us, despite the effort we’d put into it, and despite the fact they’d given verbal assurances they would. But you know what? That’s fine. That just means we have to shout louder. So if you’re reading this article, if you care about this issue- hell, if you don’t want terminally ill people like me to die, then there’s a couple of things you can do. The Health Board are about to make their decision, and before they do, we need to make our opposition to it clear. So take a study break this week, and email the following people:
Councillor Rosemary Liewald (SNP).
Cllr.Rosemary.Liewald@fife.gov.uk (New Chair)
Councillor David Alexander (SNP). firstname.lastname@example.org (Co-Leader of Fife Council)
Councillor Fiona Grant (SNP). email@example.com
Councillor David Graham (Labour). firstname.lastname@example.org
Councillor Mary Lockhart (Labour). email@example.com
Councillor David J Ross (Conservative). firstname.lastname@example.org
Councillor Tony Miklinski (Conservative). Cllr.Tony.Miklinski@fife.gov.uk
Councillor Tim Brett (Lib Dem). email@example.com
Dr. Frances Elliot firstname.lastname@example.org
Helen Wright. Helen.email@example.com
Wilma Brown. Wilma.firstname.lastname@example.org
and include the following points:
- I am opposed to the closure of the Primary Care Emergency Service facility in St. Andrews • East Fife is remote and rural, with a poor road network to Kirkcaldy.
- East Fife has a large population of elderly people and young students with special health needs and limited ability to travel to Kirkcaldy. The population of the area grows significantly with visitors during the summer.
- GPs in North East Fife are keen to provide some form of local service from the local area.
- Over 6000 signed the petition and over 2000 signed the postcards against the closure.
Please. Lives could depend on it.