WEST and Central Fifers are being urged to air their views to help in the fight to make sure local hospital services are not lost in the area.

A public meeting on the future of Queen Margaret Hospital's Out of Hour Services is being held on Monday evening when local residents will have the chance to listen to – and grill – representatives from the Fife Health and Social Care Partnership.

Hosted jointly by MSPs Alex Rowley and Shirley-Anne Somerville, the event follows similar meetings in other parts of Fife.

Kelty based Mr Rowley said it was important that politicians of all parties joined the public to campaign for the retention of local services.

The curtailment of the Out of Hours Service at Queen Margaret means that between midnight and 8am anyone needing treatment has to get to the Victoria in Kirkcaldy.

"These are community based services and to centralise everything to Kirkcaldy on the grounds that they have the surgeons and consultants, that is wrong but that is my fear," he told the Times.

"We need to build support across all political spectrums to say what kind of local community health and social care services we expect to see.

"We should be jointly saying we will resist any centralisation of services. The Health and Social Partnership will talk about difficulties in terms of recruiting GPs and recruiting specialist staff and the Government have to get their act together on that but, at a local level, we need to be united to keep these services local."

NHS Fife announced last month that it was stopping the service for three months due to nursing and medical staff shortages.

The drastic contingency action was implemented after the Fife Health and Social Care Partnership admitted they were unable to cover all overnight shifts, which they said could compromise patient safety.

Members of Fife's Labour group were out on the streets of Dunfermline town centre at the weekend with a petition aimed at saving the service and Mr Rowley said the strength of feeling was plain to see.

"It is important we have this public meeting and we engage widely across West and Central Fife," he said. "These services are important as was evidenced at the weekend on the streets of Dunfermline. As soon as people saw the signs about saving our services, they were over and lining up to sign the petitions.

"It is an issue for concern for the public and rightly so. Hopefully from the public meeting, we can decide what is next in trying to protect some of these vital services.

"The Health and Social Care Partnership have said they intend to kick-off a consultation over the summer looking more generally at all out of hours services in Fife.

"At the moment we have out of hours services available at Queen Margaret at the weekends and from 6pm until midnight but they are going to be coming under review with this consultation."

Shirley-Anne Somerville said it was essential that the Fife Health and Social Care Partnership take the opportunity to have an "open and honest" conversation.

"It’s local people that this decision is affecting, so it’s only right that residents’ thoughts and concerns are being taken into consideration," she said.

"We need assurances that in future, staffing pressures will not be allowed to build to point where we experience this sort of problem again and this is an important chance for the partnership to outline the steps which are being taken in order to ensure that services will be reinstated as soon as possible.”

Ms Somerville this week also welcomed "clear assurances" given to her that Queen Margaret Hospital's Minor Injuries unit will be maintained.

Fears had been raised of its future however she said NHS Fife chief executive Paul Hawkins had said they have an "ongoing commitment"that it will remain open 24 hours a day and will continue to be staffed appropriately.

He said NHS Fife, and the Fife Health and Social Care Partnership were working collaboratively with the Scottish Ambulance Service in order to ensure the resilience of the service.

Monday's meeting takes place from 7pm until 9pm.