Fears over A and E cuts plan

Scottish Ambulance Service vehicle outside the Border General Hospital in The Scottish Borders.
Scottish Ambulance Service vehicle outside the Border General Hospital in The Scottish Borders.
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The accident and emergency service at St John’s Hospital in Livingston may be slashed after plans were unveiled this week by NHS Lothian.

The health board came under fire after they approved a contingency plan reducing A and E at St John’s, with no doctor cover between 11pm and 7am, providing only nursing staff. The move made in response to staffing shortages, means that locals needing to see a doctor over this time would be transferred to Edinburgh Royal Infirmary.

West Lothian Council leader John McGinty slammed the plan as the same ‘contingency’ argument was used about the children’s ward at St John’s, which ended up closed over last summer.

He called on the health board to abandon the plan, assure locals there would be no downgrade of A and E at St John’s, and for the Scottish Government to protect the service.

But NHS Lothian stressed the A and E plan was hypothetical. Dr David Farquharson, medical director at NHS Lothian, said: “Maintaining safe emergency departments is a top priority and the emergency department at St John’s Hospital is crucial to our provision of safe and effective care.’’

Ellen Glass, former Winchburgh councillor for the Action to Save St John’s Party called the development “terrible news”.

West Lothian Council are meeting on Tuesday, May 28, to discuss the A and E plans.