Feedback sought on Lothian child health care

The issue of paediatric services has caused great controversy this year. Picture: PA
The issue of paediatric services has caused great controversy this year. Picture: PA
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RESIDENTS are urged to share their views as part of a wide-ranging probe into the future of paediatric care in Lothian.

RESIDENTS are urged to share their views as part of a wide-ranging probe into the future of paediatric care in Lothian.

NHS bosses have called in experts from the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH) to conduct an independent review of children’s services in the wake of repeated problems staffing the children’s ward at St John’s Hospital, Livingston.

Campaigners have accused NHS Lothian of hiding plans to close the beleaguered ward behind the review, which will not present its findings until after the Scottish Parliament elections in May. But health chiefs have insisted that no decisions have been made and an online survey has now been launched to gather feedback from the public.

Lothian Labour MSP Neil Findlay said: “I have had over 1000 e-mails from people about this issue and there’s serious concern in the community about what NHS Lothian’s intentions are regarding this service. I will be encouraging constituents to respond to the survey making the case for the retention of the 24/7 children’s ward at St John’s.”

People in West Lothian are being put at a disadvantage by the plans, warned Ellen Glass, a spokeswoman for the Action To Save St John’s Hospital campaign.

She said: “They are doing this survey so they can tick the box but right away it is stacked against West Lothian. There are so many more people in Edinburgh than out here. It is really very concerning. It seems like it is a done deal and they have rubber-stamped the plans to close the ward already.”

The 14-bed children’s ward had to be closed for six weeks over the summer due to chronic staffing shortages and NHS Lothian has struggled to recruit the specialist staff needed.

“The safety of children has to be our top priority and we are committed to this review to gain an independent and expert view on the best way to deliver services in Lothian,” said Jim Crombie, NHS Lothian’s chief officer of acute services.

“We need to provide a safe and sustainable service and we need patients, parents, carers and staff to help us do that by taking part in the review.”

Sue Eardley, head of invited reviews at the RCPCH, said: “The RCPCH review team is looking forward to working with the staff, families and children in Lothian, using the expertise of our doctors and nurses to design a service that provides high quality, equitable medical care for children, wherever they live in Lothian.”

The anonymous survey can be found at www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/RCPCHLothian.

lizzy.buchan@edinburghnews.com