‘Downgrade’ changes are made

Photograph by Ian Georgeson'St John's Hospital main entrance, meeting about cuts to the A+E department'Gordon Beurskens of Action to Save St John's
Photograph by Ian Georgeson'St John's Hospital main entrance, meeting about cuts to the A+E department'Gordon Beurskens of Action to Save St John's

Changes to the A and E department at St John’s Hospital have caused widespread upset among activists who claim the move signals a “downgrade”.

The Stop the Downgrade campaign claims that the contingency plan proposed for the A and E department has now become the “only plan” with the A and E service ‘downgraded’, as patients who attend the department after 11pm every night will now no longer be seen by a senior A and E trainee, but rather by a more junior member of staff.

A campaign spokesman said: “St John’s is the only hospital in Lothian where this will happen, reflecting NHS Lothian’s desire to downgrade St John’s and make it mainly a care of the elderly and short stay surgical hospital. There is nothing stopping NHS Lothian from extending the hours of the downgrade till our A and E department becomes meaningless.”

NHS Lothian has always refuted the claims of a “downgrade” and have organised public meetings to discuss the issues.

David Farquharson, medical director at NHS Lothian, said: “We understand how important St John’s Hospital is to the people of West Lothian and as we have always stated this site is a key stake in the ground for NHS Lothian. The aim of these meetings is to encourage those with an interest in St John’s Hospital to raise their questions and to allow the management team to properly address their comments or concerns.”

The first public meeting will be on Monday, August 26, in Uphall Community Centre, from 6.30pm-8.30pm. A community meeting will be held in Linlithgow on August 28. To reserve a place, contact Jack Thompson by emailing Jack.trt@blueyonder.co.uk