Doctors shortage closes St John’s Hospital children’s unit

editorial image

The children’s short stay assessment unit at St John’s Hospital in Livingston won’t be open tomorrow, through lack of doctors.

NHS Lothian says it had to make the decision on safety grounds, and is advising patients needing health care or advice tomorrow to call NHS 24 on 111.

Recruitment problems mean there aren’t enough doctors to cover overnights and weekends.

Patients will either be directed to an out-of-hours GP or referred on to “the most appropriate place”.

Children will still be assessed and treated in the Emergency Department and a paediatric consultant will be available on call 24/7.

If a child needs to be admitted to hospital, a transfer to the Royal Hospital for Sick Children, Edinburgh will be arranged.

Maternity and neonatal services at the hospital are unaffected and normal service will resume on Monday.

Jacquie Campbell, chief officer of acute services at NHS Lothian said: “The safety of our patients must be our top priority and for that reason the unit will not open on Sunday.

“Despite our best efforts, we have been unable to reliably secure the levels of staffing required on Sunday to guarantee a safe service.

“This is the safest option for the children of West Lothian and normal service will resume on Monday.”

NHS Lothian says it has worked closely with the Scottish Ambulance Service, NHS 24 and local GPs to ensure the provision of a safe and reliable service.