Children’s ward forced to close

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The children’s ward at St John’s Hospital has been forced to close during the summer because of staff shortages.

From Friday, July 7 young in-patients will not be admitted to the ward at the Livingston hospital instead they will be transferred to the Royal Hospital for Sick Children in Edinburgh.

Around 3000 children attend the children’s ward at St John’s Hospital each year, with a third of those admitted to hospital.

The ward will continue to operate as an assessment and programmed investigation unit from Monday to Friday between 8am and 8pm.

The closure has been a result of ongoing staffing and recruitment issues which mean they are not enough doctors available to cover overnight and weekends.

NHS Lothian hope to have the service reinstated after the summer.

Jacquie Campbell, chief officer of acute services, NHS Lothian said: “The safety of our patients must be our top priority and this is a difficult and deeply frustrating decision to make.

“If we don’t make changes now to the operating hours of the children’s ward, we run the risk of having to make an unplanned closure at a few hours notice, which would lead to the sudden diversion of patients. This reduction in opening hours is the safest option for the children of West Lothian.

“We are committed to reinstating the full service as soon as possible after the summer and will be working with the Chief Medical Officer, Scottish Government and the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health to review the steps we have taken and to identify what else can be done to guarantee, safe sustainable staffing for the service.”