St John’s defence from NHS Lothian

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Sir, - I am writing to express my disappointment at your coverage of the A&E service at St John’s Hospital.

To claim that the service is being downgraded is simply untrue and I fear that the headline may have caused undue alarm to the residents of West Lothian. As has been widely reported, staffing emergency departments across the UK is proving difficult and this is not just an issue facing NHS Lothian. Despite significant recruitment, we still had a shortage of staff to cover all of our emergency department out-of-hours rotas at St John’s Hospital from August.

However, we have worked extremely hard to ensure that we can continue to provide a safe Accident and Emergency department 24 hours a day for the people of West Lothian. As a result, there will be NO change for patients attending A&E at St John’s Hospital during the day, the night or at the weekend. In fact, the level of service provided from this month has actually been enhanced.

The recruitment of additional consultants has allowed us to extend cover within the department to 11pm which will ensure a consultant is available during the busiest times of the day. An Emergency Department consultant is on call overnight and at weekends.

The trainee doctor cover after 11pm has increased - with one clinical development fellow and one foundation level trainee doctor working in the department all night. Previously the emergency medicine trainee doctor and the foundation level doctor covered the shift from 9pm-4am and the emergency medicine trainee doctor covered the shift from 4am-8am singlehanded. An emergency advanced nurse practitioner is on shift 24 hours a day to see patients with minor injuries.

St John’s Hospital is one of our key sites and we are committed to developing the facilities and services delivered from the site. I hope your future reporting of services at the hospital reflects this. – Yours etc.,

Dr David Farquharson

Medical Director

NHS Lothian

My thanks

Sir - Thank you to the gentleman who helped me up when I fell, lunchtime on Friday. No bones broken, just bruised. Grateful thanks. – Yours etc.,

Mrs Collinson

47 St Ninians Way

Linlithgow