Calls to fully reopen children’s ward

St John's sees 1000 children admitted to the hospital each year
St John's sees 1000 children admitted to the hospital each year

Calls are being made to reopen the children’s ward at St John’s Hospital two months after it closed to in-patients.

West Lothian Council is urging the Cabinet Secretary for Health and Sport to intervene over re-establishing the full paediatric service at the Livingston hospital which was shut due to staffing shortages.

The chief executive of the local authority will write to Shona Robison MSP to call on her to act to restore the 24/7 service at the earliest date.

It is the third closure of the ward to admissions over the summer holiday period in six years, with closures taking place in 2012 and 2015.

Around 3000 children attend the hospital each year with a third of those admitted.

Admissions have been transferred to Edinburgh’s Royal Hospital for Sick Children since July 7 when the service closed.

Lawrence Fitzpatrick, leader of the council said: “West Lothian families have been forced to accept a reduced paediatric services at St. John’s for two months now.

“West Lothian is one of the fastest growing communities in Scotland with around 30,000 children, so to remove overnight services for children during the busy summer months is simply unacceptable.

“This is why we are calling on Cabinet Secretary Shona Robison to intervene now to ensure the full service is re-instated as soon as possible.

“A solution must be found that guarantees an all year round service on the children’s ward for West Lothian’s growing younger population.”

Over 8500 residents have also signed a petition by Lothian MSP Neil Findlay calling on NHS Lothian and the cabinet secretary for health and sport to ensure the long-term future of the service.

Senior staff from NHS Lothian have held crunch talks with the council over the decisions to stop admissions.

Tracey Gillies, medical director, NHS Lothian, said: “The safety of our patients is our top priority. We remain committed to resuming a full service as soon as we have a safe and sustainable service model.

“I would emphasise that until we do, parents are not being asked to do anything differently.  The children’s ward continues to operate as an assessment and programmed investigation unit from Monday to Friday, 8am–8pm.

“Most children who attend the unit continue to be cared for as normal: they are either referred by their GP for an urgent medical opinion or attend with a pre-arranged appointment for treatment, assessment, tests or minor day surgery.”