Demands for St John’s Hospital report release

St John's Hospital in Livingston. Picture: Lisa Ferguson

St John's Hospital in Livingston. Picture: Lisa Ferguson

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HEALTH bosses are under growing pressure to ensure a crucial report on the future of children’s services at St John’s Hospital, Livingston, is published before the Scottish ­Parliament elections.

Four senior West Lothian activists from across the political spectrum issued a joint statement arguing that voters are entitled to know what is being proposed on the future of paediatric care ahead of going to the polls.

NHS Lothian has called in experts from the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH) to conduct the review after repeated problems staffing the children’s ward at St John’s.

But the health board says the timescale means the report cannot be published before March 23 when parliament is dissolved and official announcements on controversial initiatives are banned for the period of the election.

The joint statement, signed by Green Lothian list candidate James Mackenzie, Bathgate Labour councillor Harry Cartmill, Linlithgow Conservative candidate Charles Kennedy and West Lothian Liberal Demo­crat Caron Lindsay, said many people were worried by the threat hanging over the children’s ward at St John’s.

It continued: “It is unthinkable that an area which has the fastest growing population in Scotland, including the thousands of young families who have moved here, might lose its important paediatric services.

“This is one of the most important local issues. Local people have a right to know what the review says ahead of the election so that they can properly question the candidates before they cast their vote.

“The review team are doing their work over the next few weeks. We believe it is reasonable for them to complete and publish their report before the election campaign begins.”

Dr David Farquharson, NHS Lothian medical director, said: “In discussion with [the RCPCH] about realistic time­scales, we recognised it would not be possible for the report to be completed, considered and published before parliament is dissolved on March 23 when we enter the pre-election period. As a result the report will be formally presented at the NHS Lothian public board meeting in early June.”

ian.swanson@edinburghnews.com