Suspension of 24/7 service at children's ward meant 1,200 ambulance transfers from Livingston to Edinburgh

Campaigners fought hard to reopen the children's ward at St John'sCampaigners fought hard to reopen the children's ward at St John's
Campaigners fought hard to reopen the children's ward at St John's
Up to 68 ambulance journeys a month were recorded transporting children from St John's Hospital in Livingston to Edinburgh's Sick Kids hospital while 24/7 operation of the West Lothian children's ward was suspended.

Figures obtained by Lothian Tory MSP Miles Briggs under Freedom of Information show more than 1,200 transfers from St John’s to Edinburgh in the past four years.

The children’s ward resumed round-the-clock in-patient services in October after crucial staff shortages were addressed. A recruitment drive saw two consultants and one locum added to the team, as well as a small number of ward nursing staff.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

The 24/7 service at St John's children's ward was suspended because of staffing problems in July 2017 but there had been frequent weekend closures in the months before that. It reopened four nights a week in March 2019 and should have returned to full-time operation in October that year but only did so 12 months later.

The figures released by the Scottish Ambulance Service show inter-hospital transfers from St John’s to the Sick Kids totalled 1,219 between September 2016 and August 2020, an average of 25 journeys a month over the four-year period. But the ambulance journeys peaked at 68 transfers in December 2018.

Families in West Lothian campaigned hard for the ward to be re-opened full-time amid concerns about the extra difficulties of having to travel to and from Edinburgh to visit their ill children.

In June this year, a report by the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health said that if staffing issues could not be resolved, NHS Lothian should consider down-grading the ward to a short-stay assessment unit.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Mr Briggs said: “I am delighted that 24/7 paediatric services have resumed this year at St John’s Hospital and it is a credit to the people of West Lothian who campaigned tirelessly to get these services reinstated.

“Far too many young patients and families have had to make the 20-mile trip to Edinburgh over the last four years .

“It is important that the workforce at St John’s Hospital is properly managed and any recruitment challenges are sorted far in advance so that we don’t go back to a situation where young patients are having to travel into Edinburgh to be taken care of.”

A message from the Editor:

Thank you for reading this article. We're more reliant on your support than ever as the shift in consumer habits brought about by coronavirus impacts our advertisers.

If you haven't already, please consider supporting our trusted, fact-checked journalism by taking out a digital subscription.

Comment Guidelines

National World encourages reader discussion on our stories. User feedback, insights and back-and-forth exchanges add a rich layer of context to reporting. Please review our Community Guidelines before commenting.