NHS Lothian to get extra £77m but no promise on children’s ward

Paediatric services at St John's Hospital in Livingston are under threat with a review to be published later in the year
Paediatric services at St John's Hospital in Livingston are under threat with a review to be published later in the year

NHS Lothian is to receive almost £80 million in additional funds this financial year, bringing the health board’s budget to £1.3 billion.

The £77.6m, a 6.3 per cent increase, was announced by Health Secretary Shona Robison this week for 2016/17.

Just over £35m of this extra cash will invested in social care, while Linlithgow councillor Tom Kerr said he would like to see some of the money used to protect paediatric services which are under threat at St John’s Hospital in Livingston.

The children’s ward at St John’s is a major issue with campaigners fighting to ensure it is kept open. NHS Lothian has called in the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH) to conduct a review after repeated problems staffing the ward.

However, the report will not be published until after the Holyrood election in May.

Mr Kerr said: “I’d be delighted if some of this money is allocated to St John’s for paediatric services. It is a really good, modern hospital and we have to sustain it. One of the main problems for paediatric services at St John’s is they have great difficulty in attracting paediatric consultants.”

Jim Crombie, NHS Lothian’s Chief Officer of Acute Services, said: “The safety of children has to be our top priority and we are committed to this review, which is being carried out by the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, to gain an independent, expert view on the best way to deliver children’s inpatient services in Lothian.

“We should not pre-empt the outcome of that review.”

Health Secretary Shona Robison said: “The Scottish Government’s commitment to increasing NHS Lothian’s budget demonstrates our continuing investment in improving care. This comes as Scotland’s total health spending reaches almost £13 billion for the first time ever.

“We’re clear that people in Lothian should have access to the right care, in the right place, at the right time. With this increase in funding, health boards are being given more support to achieve this.

“The integration of health and social care, which comes into full force on April 1, is the most significant reform of our health and social care services since the creation of the NHS and our investment of £35.3 million for Lothian’s health and social care partnerships will help improve people’s experience of care.

“This funding will allow people to be supported to maintain their independence for as long as possible, in their own homes and communities and mean that fewer people need to go to hospital to receive care.

“Where hospital care is necessary and appropriate, they will spend less time there and return home quicker.”