Sparks fly in A&E debate “pantomime”

Ambulance and stretcher outside St John's Hospital, Livingston.
Ambulance and stretcher outside St John's Hospital, Livingston.
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“Utter farce and pantomime” is how some branded this week’s council debate on accident and emergency services at St John’s Hospital.

NHS Lothian has come under fire after it approved development of a contingency plan that could see A and E at the Livingston hospital reduced to daytime hours over the summer, forcing locals to go elsewhere between 11pm and 7am.

But a special West Lothian Council meeting on Tuesday to discuss the issue was 
condemned by some SNP councillors.

Linlithgow councillor Martyn Day said: “It is high time some politicians stopped seeking to use St John’s as a political football and started to address the real issues 
facing our health services.”

He attacked the Labour administration for misrepresenting the Scottish Government and for not having an NHS representative present at the meeting.

Winchburgh councillor Janet Campbell added that UK-wide A and E departments were experiencing a drop in recruitment applications.

But Labour council leader John McGinty hit back, saying the SNP was “hoodwinking” people, adding: “The action being taken by the council administration shows our determination to stand up for St John’s and do all we can to protect vital health services for people here in West Lothian.”

He called on NHS Lothian to carry out a full public consultation on any service provision proposals at St John’s.

This week, Dr David Farquharson, medical director at NHS Lothian, said: “NHS Lothian is full committed to developing St John’s Hospital and to ensuring the emergency department remains open 24/7.”