Gina Davidson: Time to get St John’s fighting fit for future

File picture: Ondrooo
File picture: Ondrooo
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I’M lucky to have healthy children, although there have been worrying nights spent at both the Sick Kids Hospital and St John’s children’s ward when asthma tightened its grip on my eldest son’s tiny lungs.

I’m also lucky to have a partner who could stay at home with our other kids while I went to the hospital overnight to hold his hand and listen to the beeps of monitors telling me if he was breathing properly. Other times he went and I stayed home.

Too many people are not so fortunate. They have children who are in and out of hospital dealing with chronic conditions, they’re single parents with no-one to call on to care for their other children if a hospital visit is needed, they’ve no car to get to the hospital and rely on public transport . . . they need vital health services to be close at hand, not three bus journeys on a rather indifferent service and 30 miles away.

West Lothian has a population of around 180,000 – due to rise to 205,000 over the next 20 years. Houses are being thrown up all over the county and will become homes for families; families who will need good hospital services for their children.

The idea that the children’s ward at St John’s Hospital might not exist, or may be closed at nights, is therefore outrageously short-sighted.

That threat has been hanging over the hospital and the people of West Lothian for far too long. It’s no surprise, then, that a report by the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health into children’s services has stated that there’s a “lack of clear vision” and leadership shown at the top of NHS Lothian when it comes to St John’s.

As a result there have been major issues with staffing and it’s probably not too far-fetched to suggest that is a result of the impression which has been allowed to develop – by the lack of vision – that for medical staff St John’s isn’t worth bothering about. After all, there’ll be a nice, shiny new children’s hospital at Little France very soon. Why work in West Lothian?

The staff who have kept the children’s ward at St John’s functioning are truly dedicated, but they’ve been treated with disrespect by a board which seems not to have given a thought about their health – or that of their patients. Staffing levels which mean that should just one person be off sick, patient care is compromised, are a scandal. Similarly so is the fact that nurse practitioners are “acting up” as doctors on the ward and filling in on the rota. It’s little wonder that they’re anxious about the high-dependency unit at night when consultants are not available.

The same report suggests that doctors and specialists in paediatrics working in the Sick Kids should automatically be on the rota to work at St John’s, as part and parcel of their contract. It makes perfect sense and should be implemented as speedily as possible.

There can be no reduction in the hours of the children’s ward – we all now a temporary measure like that soon becomes permanent.

St John’s needs to be a priority for NHS Lothian because, learning from history, it’s unlikely the new Sick Kids being built will have enough beds to cope with an influx of children from West Lothian on top of those from Edinburgh and the rest of the Lothians.

Let’s avoid all that pain and get St John’s back up to scratch – prevention, after all, is better than cure.

Make your vote count for a clear result

THIS time next week we’ll all be voting in the European Union referendum.

The campaigns for In and Out have been depressingly similar to those run for the Scottish independence referendum two years ago. And it’s obvious that if Remain doesn’t win by a large enough percentage, the Brexiteers will bang on about the legitimacy of the result ad infinitum and demand future referenda. I really can’t bear it.

If the bookies are right, Edinburgh will be voting Remain and will produce the biggest vote for staying in the EU in Scotland. But don’t gamble with complacency – make sure you get out and vote In.

Payouts should go in the books

INTERESTING financial shenanigans at Edinburgh City Council. Both Labour and SNP group leaders have paid colleagues £1500 of their own money to make up a shortfall in wages when Jim Orr and Gordon Munro lost special allowance payments in a shake-up of which roles would qualify for the extra cash.

There’s nothing illegal about what they did, nothing fraudulent. However the behind-closed-doors, nudge, nudge, wink, wink “you ain’t seen me right?” vibe about the whole thing is what raises suspicions.

If there was an issue with councillors losing their special allowance and it was agreed that Andrew Burns and Steve Cardownie, pictured, would help out with their own money, then why not be open about that and have it put on record?

At the very least the police wouldn’t have wasted time investigating.

Could Green Phil the void?

THE Forsyth Sphere will soon be shining in its rightful position at the apex of the Princes Street Topshop store – a shop owned, of course, by Sir Philip Green, pictured.

I’m quite sure BHS workers who will soon be unemployed, or have their pensions affected by the collapse of the chain store, would rather it was he who was hoisted up there and left to spin.

Skate expectations

CANNOT wait to see the Trainspotting sequel – I just hope that the 1980s flashback filmed at the Cavendish nightclub in Tollcross includes some roller disco from the days of Coasters.