‘Keep ward open’

editorial image

Fury grows over NHS Lothian closure plan for children’s service

Pressure is growing for NHS Lothian to immediately reopen the children’s ward at St John’s Hospital.

The move to close the service to inpatients at the Livingston hospital for the summer has been condemned.

West Lothian Council leaders held showdown talks with health board representatives on Tuesday demanding to know why the ward was closed and what plans were in place to make sure there would not be a repeat.

The ward will shut today (Friday) because of an acute shortage of staff to cover evening and weekend shifts.

But Linlithgow and Falkirk East MP Martyn Day claims he has evidence that shifts were covered for July.

It is the third time since 2012 that the ward has closed during the summer.

Patients will be transferred to the Royal Hospital for Sick Children in Edinburgh. Around 1000 youngsters are admitted to St John’s each year.

NHS Lothian has said it “hopes” to have the service open again after summer but calls were made by council leaders to do it immediately.

Council leader Lawrence Fitzpatrick said: “West Lothian stands united in opposing this unnecessary reduction to paediatric services at St John’s.

“This combined meeting sent a strong message to NHS Lothian that their decision is the wrong one and should be reversed.”

Jim Crombie, deputy chief executive, NHS Lothian, said: “Attempting to maintain a full-time operation with the current staffing model would in our assessment pose too high a risk to patients.”