Principal Sally Mapstone recently addressed health professionals, Stephen Gethins MP, and Willie Rennie MSP in a letter regarding the closure of out-of-hours GP services, calling the decision “a grave concern to the University.”
Last month, Dr Alan McGovern, to whom the letter is primarily addressed, issued a statement that NHS Fife would be closing its out-of-hours services in the St Andrews Community Hospital from midnight each night, for a trial period of three months.
In the letter dated Monday 23 April, the Principal addressed the student and staff demographic that makes up a significant portion of the northeast Fife area.
She said, “Between midnight and 8am, it is likely that many of those who use the St Andrews MIU will be students. Very few students have access to a car and the MIU is their only recourse for medical assessment unless they call out GPs, a process likely to place further unwanted strain on NHS resources.”
The Principal continued, “The alternative to the MIU, Kirkcaldy’s Victoria Hospital, is simply inaccessible for most students faced with an emergency at night … The only alternative for students is the Ambulance service, which is already severely stretched: we have experience of staff waiting 45 minutes for an ambulance to appear, even in serious emergencies.”
During the pilot period, all overnight primary care emergency services from St Andrews, Dunfermline, and Glenrothes, will be transferred to Kirkcaldy’s Victoria Hospital, where patients will have to travel between midnight and 8am.
Principal Mapstone added, “This situation is beset by risks to our students’ health, with a real chance that an emergency will go unassessed and untreated due to the absence of accessible facilities.”
Along with her personal concerns, Principal Mapstone also informed Dr McGovern of the University’s demographics, including how out of about 9,000 students, 93 per cent “are living independently away from home for the first time in their lives.” Additionally, 4,000 students are from countries outside of the United Kingdom and 5,000 live in halls where staff are not medically trained.