Council urges health secretary to intervene over hospital’s staff problem

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West Lothian Council has renewed calls for health secretary Shona Robison to step in and help restore 24/7 children’s services at problem-hit St John’s Hospital.

A council motion has instructed the chief executive to write to Mr Robison again in a bid to return the ward to full time service “at the earliest date”

The move follows an update from senior NHS staff confirming that NHS Lothian still does not have the staff resources to reopen the paediatric ward to admissions on a seven-days, 24-hours basis.

This is despite some progress in recruiting extra staff, and additional training for existing staff aimed at allowing them to take on more responsibilities.

The council says a total of 432 children have been transferred from St John’s to the Sick Children’s Hospital in Edinburgh since the ward was closed to admissions in July last year - the fifth closure since 2012.

The council is also calling for NHS Lothian to provide free transport for those who have had to bear the cost of expensive taxi fares as a result.