Children’s ward reopens after three-week closure

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The children’s ward at St John’s Hospital in Livingston has resumed full service following a controversial three-week closure.

NHS Lothian shut the children’s inpatient ward due to pressures over staffing, prompting criticism from staff at the hospital, patients and politicians.

The health board said the ward had reopened as planned yesterday, with staffing levels returning to a safe level.

It was also announced that three new consultant neonatologists and two consultant paediatricians will take up posts at the hospital in the coming weeks.

Dr David Farquharson, NHS Lothian’s medical director, said: “The medical and nursing staff at St John’s made Herculean efforts in order to maintain children’s and maternity services. Despite this, for the three weeks in July, we were unable to ensure that 
adequate back-up was in place if there was an unplanned absence.

“The alternative, of crossing fingers and hoping for the best, was not good enough. I am delighted to say now that the department is stronger than ever and we are back to full strength.”

Over the three weeks 35 children from West Lothian were admitted to the Sick Kids in Edinburgh rather than St John’s Hospital.