East Lothian MSPs join in protest after shock closure of community hospital

Local MSPs from different political parties have joined with North Berwick’s local community to help reinstate Edington Hospital Service following its sudden closure in September.

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MSPs Jackie Baillie, Sue Webber, Paul McLennan, Craig Hoy and Martin Whitfield were among the crowd of several hundred at the rally organised by the community campaign group, Hands Around The Edington.

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The rally marked eight weeks since the controversial relocation of all staff and services at Edington Hospital to the East Lothian Community Hospital in Haddington by East Lothian Health and Social Care Partnership (ELHSCP).

Pictured L-R: Murray Duncanson, Hands Around The Edington; Lorna Sinclair, North Berwick Health & Wellbeing Association; Paul McLennan MSP; Judy Lockhart, North Berwick Community Council; Craig Hoy MSP; Jackie Baillie MSP; Martin Whitfield MSP; Sue Webber MSP.

Edington Hospital had provided palliative and end-of-life care for over 100 years and operated the only minor injuries unit in the entire region before the sudden move.

The hospital’s GPs, nurses, clinical care staff, patients and their families were all given less than two weeks’ notice of the closure, which is being cited by ELHSCP as being a temporary response to staffing shortages combined with unprecedented levels of demand. A review of the situation is planned for December.

Murray Duncanson, spokesperson for Hands Around The Edington, said the rally has helped drive up support for the cause with nearly 8,000 people having signed a petition to reopen the hospital.

He said: “The Edington has been at the heart of our community for over a century and its closure has stirred up a groundswell of support from the families of patients who saw out their final days in the compassionate care of Edington nurses and GPs, not to mention the countless injuries treated at their expert hands.

“Our petition has received nearly 8,000 signatures, we have been sent hundreds of letters and emails of support and today the turnout showed just how great the impact of this closure is being felt by all of us. The planning and delivery of services needs to put the needs of the service users and their families first. Care needs to be kept in the community.”

Rally receives cross-party support from MSPs

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Speaking to the Evening News after attending the rally, Scottish Conservative MSP Craig Hoy and shadow health minister said he hopes the NHS will listen to residents.

He said: “It was excellent to join the hands around the Edington rally which underlined the strength of community support for the urgent reopening of in-patient beds at the hospital.

“I hope NHS Lothian will now listen to residents and redouble their efforts to restore and enhance facilities.

“This means not only re-opening the hospital as soon as possible, but also making sure that communities right across East Lothian benefit from quality, community based care provision and can access local minor injuries facilities.”

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Usually on opposite sides of the debate, SNP MSP Paul McLennan has agreed with Mr Hoy’s comments, adding the rally was a credit to the community.

He said: “It was great to be with the community in North Berwick today for the Hands Around The Edington rally. The love and warmth for the Edington Hospital in the town is a credit to the staff and to the community. The passion is felt strongly by the steering group I convene, and I look forward to continuing with the meetings, and continuing discussions with the Cabinet Secretary for Health.”

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