Staff shortage forces NHS Lothian chiefs to shut hospital

A nursing shortage has forced bosses to shut a hospital for the elderly, amid fears of a major staff crisis across the Lothians.

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Patients from St Michael’s in Linlithgow which provides end of life and respite care will be moved nine miles to Tippethill House, a community hospital in Armadale.

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Bosses insisted the closure of the 24-bed long-stay hospital was temporary and will be reviewed next month.

Residents will be moved to a hospital nine miles away

But they confirmed patients from a number of smaller homes in the area will also have to be moved to Tippethill, as a result of staffing pressures.

It comes after the Evening News revealed several sites in the region were forced to close beds while patients faced a 12 hours wait at A&E at Edinburgh's largest hospital in recent weeks.

The mounting pressure caused by general sickness, annual leave and staff self-isolating has prompted warnings from Unison of “crippling” shortages meaning only basic care can be provided.

Two surgical wards at St John's Hospital in Livingston had to be amalgamated last week as a result of staff shortages.

Closing due to staff shortages: St Michael's Hospital in Linlithgow
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Alison White, Chief Officer of the West Lothian Health and Social Care Partnership, said: “Health services are facing staffing pressures, caused by higher levels of general sickness and staff who are self-isolating.

“A number of actions are being taken across NHS Lothian and the local health and social care partnerships to ensure that patient safety, quality care and wellbeing of our hard-working staff remain the foremost priority.

“We have looked across all of our community facilities to see if there are better ways of delivering care or amalgamating services that would also allow us to release more staffing.

“We are working with staff, patients and families and partnership to co-locate similar wards of small numbers of patients into one hospital as a temporary measure, one which will be reviewed in September when we expect the staffing position to improve.

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“This means that a small number of patients, who are currently receiving care in St Michael’s Hospital, will be transferred into another ward in Tippethill House Hospital.

“Our clinical teams have carried out a full clinical assessment to ensure that patients are well enough to travel the short distance and will not be impacted by the journey or the move. They and their families are being kept fully informed.”

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