Jenny Gilruth's constituency includes Kinglassie.

'GOING to the doctor. It’s something we often taken for granted living in Scotland. In May I wrote this column about a temporary closure to GP out of hours services in Glenrothes Hospital. I say temporary because it was meant to end in July. Sadly, that did not happen.

GP out of hours services across Fife are now operating on ‘contingency measures’ until January 2019. What that means for my constituents is that they cannot access an out of hours GP between the hours of 12 midnight and 8am in Glenrothes.

The Health officials who run Fife’s Health and Social Care Partnership said they couldn’t re-open our GP out of hours services between 12 midnight and 8 am because it would be unsafe to do so. That’s because they tell us - politicians and the public alike - that we don’t have enough GPs to staff it.

In fact, we do have the GPs. GP numbers in Fife are higher now than they were comparatively in 2017. So what’s the problem? Well, GPs aren’t contractually obliged to work out of hours. So many simply choose not to.

I understand the dilemma our Health and Social Care Partnership must face. Expectations on our National Health Service are sky high. Budgets are shrinking as Tory austerity continues to bite. Indeed, the Scottish Government has estimated it would need an annual increase in investment of between £422 million and £625 million in health and social care services just to keep pace with demand. My job as an MSP is to stand up for my constituents.

We have seen little evidence of alternative steps taken to recruit GPs and additional staff to the Kingdom before the closure began, back in April.

I am concerned my constituents will now have a lesser health service. I am concerned that patients from Dunfermline, St Andrews and Glenrothes have been diverted to the Victoria in Kirkcaldy. I am concerned my constituents won’t be able to afford the taxi fare. I am concerned about my constituents health and well-being. And I am not the only elected member who shares these concerns.

The energy and determination of the people I represent to ensure this service stays open was unquestionable at the public meetings I attended.

From elderly residents, to the parents of children with serious medical needs, worries were raised that residents would become isolated from round the clock healthcare.

This week I’ll be holding a debate in the Scottish Parliament on Fife’s GP out of hours closures. But I am limited as an MSP - because it won’t be me making the final decision. So, to Fife’s Health and Social Care Partnership - the ball is officially in your court'.