Steps taken to allay fears over St John’s

Ambulance and stretcher outside St John's Hospital, Livingston.
Ambulance and stretcher outside St John's Hospital, Livingston.
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Concerns over the continuity of 24/7 A&E facilities at St John’s Hospital was a key priority when community representatives across West Lothian met with NHS Lothian bosses last week.

They raised concerns there may be no senior A&E trainees on duty after 11pm while late night admissions could be transferred to the Edinburgh Royal Infirmary (ERI).

The Stop The Downgrade Campaign handed over a 10,000 signature petition. Campaigners turned out in force to meet with the board last week, though only a few got to sit in at the stakeholder meeting.

In reply to the campaigner’s concerns, Dr David Farquharson, medical director, NHS Lothian said they were committed to providing 24/7 services at St John’s, and 
developing it. He said: “We have made a significant investment of both time and money in recruitment and looking at different ways of working to ensure that a safe and effective emergency department at St John’s can be maintained.

‘‘We have also agreed a solution that will see an increased number of junior doctors working in the emergency department overnight and will ensure that they have the appropriate support. An effective diversion protocol has been in place with the Scottish Ambulance service since 2004 which already sees seriously ill patients taken to the ERI.’’

He added that an extension of this is not planned, but would be kept under review. Meanwhile, St John’s has been given a £1.7m boost, see page seven.