Delay into St John’s report until after Scottish election criticised

St John's Hospital in Livingston
St John's Hospital in Livingston

An opposition MSP has warned health services could become a “political football” if the findings of a report into St John’s Hospital are not published until after the Holyrood elections.

It was announced today that an independent review into children’s health care, commissioned due to staffing and recruitment problems, would not be finished until June.

Alison Johnstone, Scottish Green MSP for Lothian and the Scottish Greens’ health spokesperson said: “Local parents and staff at St John’s are being left in limbo. We know that staffing shortages have been a problem at the paediatric department, and we should be putting our energies into resolving that situation.

“As well as improving recruitment here, we must challenge the UK Government’s wrongheaded immigration policies which have put a barrier in the way of retaining the skilled overseas staff our hospitals have benefited from.

“It’s sensible that the NHS board comes up with sustainable answers but it doesn’t seem reasonable for people to have to wait until June before they know what’s likely to happen. I would urge health bosses and ministers to expedite this process and to be clear with the public what’s happening. This is too important an issue to become a political football.”

NHS Lothian medical director Dr David Farquharson said it was impossible for the report to be completed before the Scottish Parliament dissolves in March.

He said: “As a result, the report will be formally presented at the NHS Lothian public board meeting in early June.

“We cannot pre-empt what the report will say, however we recognise the potentially politically contentious nature of this issue.

“For this reason, we have taken the responsible decision of organising a meeting to allow board members to review and absorb the findings of the report and consider the next steps in advance of the June board meeting but after the pre-election period is complete.”