Closure concerns over children’s ward at St John’s hospital

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There are fresh fears over the future of the children’s ward at St John’s Hospital after it was closed because of staff shortages.

It’s the third time in six years the ward at the Livingston hospital has been forced to shut during the summer and the move was described as a “significant blow and deeply concerning” to the community.

NHS Lothian announced the decision to close the ward to in-patients from July 7 onwards because of a staffing crisis.

However, Linlithgow and Falkirk East SNP MP Martyn Day said the decision should be reversed after he was given an NHS document showing a “robust rota” in place for July.

The closure will see young patients being transferred to the Royal Hospital for Sick Children in Edinburgh, with the ward being used as an assessment unit during the day.

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

NHS Lothian said it has taken “the difficult and deeply frustrating decision” to ensure patient safety but “hope” to have the service open again after the summer.

Labour MSP for Lothian Neil Findlay condemned the move and set up a petition to “save the children’s ward” which 6500 residents have signed.

He said: “This is terrible news yet again for children and their parents in West Lothian.

“Only a year ago, NHS Lothian told us that the ward was safe and that appropriate staffing arrangements would be put in place to ensure 24/7 in-patients services would be available.”

Lothian Conservative MSP Miles Briggs said: “It will be greeted with dismay and disappointment by parents and local people across the area.”

Leader of West Lothian Council, Lawrence Fitzpatrick, said he was “shocked” and “very angry” at the decision.

Linlithgow MSP Fiona Hyslop said she shared the concerns of her constituents

She added: “The Health Secretary Shona Robison has made clear this is temporary because of issues of staffing middle grade doctors over the summer.

“I am pleased that in her statement the Health Secretary makes it clear she expects to see the full service reinstated.”