Children’s ward closure at St John’s Hospital is a “disgrace”

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Parents continue to face a 20-mile trip to Edinburgh if their sick child needs to be admitted overnight to hospital.

A staffing crisis at the children’s ward in St John’s Hospital, Livingston has closed it to overnight admissions since July.

Now a report has warned it should not be reopened in a hurry.

It means children have to be treated at the Royal Hospital for Sick Children in Edinburgh.

However, the September review by the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health supported the decision by NHS Lothian health board to suspend services as it was neither “safe nor sustainable” to continue to operate at a 24/7 level.

The inpatient ward closed for the third time in five years in July because of long-term sickness absence and problems recruiting paediatricians.

Neil Findlay, the MSP for Lothian, said: “This is simply a disgrace with parents facing a 20-mile trip to Edinburgh with a sick child.”

The report stated there has also been concern over long delays for patients being transferred over the “relatively quiet” summer months and this needed “urgently addressed” as the problem would be compounded come the winter.

Fiona Hyslop, Linlithgow MSP, said: “I call on everyone to pull together and get behind the clinicians, staff and management and to stop questioning the future of the ward.”

Jacquie Campbell, chief officer of acute services at NHS Lothian, said: “We are working extremely hard to recruit additional senior staff so that we can reinstate 24/7 services at the site and we remain committed to the service.”