Edinburgh hospitals: Royal Voluntary Service to close cafes in hospitals including Royal Edinburgh Hospital
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The RVS blamed a drop in customers for the move and NHS Lothian says it is trying to make alternative arrangements as quickly as possible. The closures are expected to be completed by the end of this month. The sites affected are the Western General, where the RVS has operated five outlets, the Royal Edinburgh Hospital, the Astley Ainsilie, the Lauriston Building and Eye Pavilion and Midlothian Community Hospital.
The only RVS outlet in Lothian not affected is the one at East Lothian Community Hospital. Facilities not run by the RVS are not affected. Where other catering facilities already exist, opening hours are expected to be extended. But some sites – including Lauriston Building, the Eye Pavilion and Midlothian Community Hospital – have no other catering or retail outlets.
Chris Gray, head of retail operations for RVS, said: “We have been pleased to see trading return to many of our cafes and shops following the pandemic. There are however some sites where there is reduced footfall and customer spend, including some of our sites in Lothian.
“This means we have had to make the difficult decision to close our retail outlets at Western General Hospital, Royal Edinburgh Hospital, Astley Ainslie Hospital, Midlothian Community Hospital, the Princess Alexandra Eye Pavilion and the Lauriston Building. As a charity operating in a challenging environment, it’s no longer viable to run these services. Our focus remains on supporting the rest of our retail estate, including our cafe in East Lothian Community Hospital, as well as on helping the NHS and vulnerable people in the community. We are sad to see these services go and would like to thank all our staff and volunteers who have supported them over the years.”
Edinburgh South Labour MP and Shadow Scottish Secretary Ian Murray said: “This will be hugely disappointing news for the millions of patients and visitors to hospitals in Edinburgh who have been served by the popular RVS services. Their volunteers were fantastic and always knew that their customers could be anyone from a grieving family member to a consultant. I’m not sure why they have become unviable but I would hope NHS Lothian would do all they could to save them as the public may well have responded to help.”
Morag Campbell, director of facilities at NHS Lothian, said: “The Royal Voluntary Service has made the decision to close their catering and retail outlets which are located across some of our sites. While this decision is disappointing, we are working hard to ensure that alternative provision can be made available as soon as possible. This includes extending the opening hours of other existing catering facilities on these sites. We will continue to ensure that staff, patients and visitors are kept informed. The facilities at East Lothian Community Hospital will continue to operate as normal.”