A petition calling for the re-instatement of out-of-hours GP services in St Andrews has gained more than 3,000 signatures in less than a fortnight.
The online petition, launched by North East Fife MSP Willie Rennie on August 30, aims to persuade Fife Health and Social Care Partnership to continue overnight emergency cover at St Andrews Hospital.
GPs branded the move an unacceptable loss of local services that would threaten patient safety and impact most profoundly on elderly people and families with young children.
In April, the service was removed from the town, as well as from Glenrothes Hospital and Queen Margaret Hospital in Dunfermline, and centralised at Victoria Hospital in Kirkcaldy.
The contingency, prompted by a concern for patient safety amid a shortage of GPs and nurses, was initially due to last three months but was later extended to January.
A consultation on the long-term future of community health services, including out-of-hours GP cover, is continuing and the public have been urged to make their views known.
Proposals include centralising overnight cover from midnight-8am at Dunfermline and Kirkcaldy, or at Kirkcaldy only. There is no option to retain services at St Andrews or Glenrothes.
Local people can attend meetings at Waid Community Campus, Anstruther, on Thursday and in St Andrews Town Hall on September 24, both at 6.45pm.
Mr Rennie said: “Everybody I have spoken to has expressed a clear view it should not happen and there is a growing anger.”
Fife Health and Social Care Partnership director Michael Kellet said there had been no option. “Fife is experiencing the impact of shortages of key staff,” he said.
“In response we have put in place the contingency measures to ensure a safe and reliable service. In addition, we must look at solutions to secure safe and sustainable services in the immediate and long term.”