Closure fears over St Michael’s Hospital in Linlithgow

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A charity has raised fears over the future of a local hospital after staff dropped hints about it closing.

The League of Friends of St Michael’s Hospital is concerned that the hospital in Linlithgow could shut despite being given assurances that it will remain open.

Members of the charity have said staff have raised concerns to them about it closing after a reduction in beds from 30 to 22.

At a Linlithgow and Linlithgow Bridge Community Council meeting on Tuesday two representatives from the charity voiced their worries about its future.

Lesley Malone said: “Most recently eight beds have closed which is a warning to us.

“For all that we hear that it is going to stay open the staff continually talk about the fact that they are closing.

“It has 30 beds, it has now been cut down to 22 if it goes to 15 then it is not viable.”

The specialised community hospital on Edinburgh Road provides end of life care for patients and is operated by NHS Lothian.

Lesley said: “We find it very unsettling for the staff and the patients.

“The staff haven’t had permanent positions and the feeling I get when we visit the hospital is they don’t know what’s happening.

“It is one of the few hospitals in West Lothian that provides that care.”

Elma Birrell of the charity said: “We feel St Michael’s serves a vital function where there are no hospices.

“We are raising this issue to make sure that the function that St Michael’s provides is maintained. We need to do something before it is shut.”

Linlithgow Provost Tom Kerr explained the reason he was given as to why there was a reduction in beds but admitted he had concerns about the way the NHS Lothian board were making decisions.

He said: “The feedback I was given as to why the eight beds were down was because of new health and safety requirements at the hospice.

“NHS Lothian says there are no plans to close the hospital. If there was to be a closure of the hospital, I’m sure it would require a consultation.

“Taking that at face value and considering what has happened in the last week I have real concerns now about the way NHS Lothian make their decisions.

“The decision to close the children’s ward at St John’s was taking by the board only two or three weeks ago.”

A spokesperson for NHS Lothian said: “There are no current plans to close St Michael’s Hospital or reduce bed numbers and any such rumours are completely unfounded.”