Livingston hospital campaigners condemn 'shambles' as children's ward reopening delayed

Campaigners have hit out after Health Secretary Jeane Freeman announced plans to restore 24/7 opening at the children’s ward in St John’s Hospital in Livingston next month have been called off because of continuing staffing problems.

Saturday, 28th September 2019, 8:45 am
The children's ward was due to step up from four nights a week to seven from October.

Ms Freeman said it would be unsafe to bring back round-the-clock children’s services but insisted she remained committed to reinstating full-time operation and pledged that NHS Lothian would continue in their efforts to recruit the required number of staff.

Campaigner Ellen Glass said: ”This is obviously bad news for West Lothian, considering the state Edinburgh has got us into. Where are these patients going to go? It’s just a shambles.

“Look at all the housing going up in West Lothian - lots of people are moving in with young children. There’s going to be more demand for services all the time.”

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Health Secretary Jeane Freeman has not set a new date for the ward's full reopening.

The children’s ward was shut for 18 months due to staffing pressures but re-opened four nights a week in March and was set to be fully reopened in October. No new date has been given for when the ward could reopen 24/7.

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Livingston children’s ward reopens - but only four nights a week

He said: “The lack of workforce management by SNP Ministers over the last 12 years has been their single biggest failing running our health service.”

Edinburgh Western Lib Dem MSP Alex Cole-Hamilton said: “I warned the margins looked very tight but the Health Secretary assured us all that services would be fully opened by October. Now, with less than four days to go, here we are again.”

Almond Valley SNP MSP Angela Constance said like all West Lothian parents she was deeply disappointed. “As the constituency MSP I will continue to press both the Scottish Government and NHS Lothian to put their shoulder is to the wheel to ensure our much loved children’s ward returns to 24/7 service as soon as possible.”

NHS Lothian medical director Dr Tracey Gillies said two extra consultants had been recruited recently, but there had also been “unexpected and unavoidable changes within the dynamic of the team” which meant it was not possible to restore the service safely from four to seven nights.