Parents’ fury as health board set to close St John’s hospital nursery

St John's Hospital, Livingston. Picture: Ian Georgeson
St John's Hospital, Livingston. Picture: Ian Georgeson
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PARENTS have slammed plans to close a nursery at St John’s Hospital in Livingston, insisting they were not consulted over the move.

• Tic Talk Nursery in St John’s Hospital, mainly attended by children of hospital staff, set to close

• Health chiefs claim facility is no longer affordable

The Tic Talk Nursery, which is mainly attended by children of hospital staff, has stopped taking new enrolments and is set to be wound up over 
coming weeks.

Health chiefs said they could no longer afford to run the facility and that there were many other nurseries in the area.

But parent Derek McKain, whose three-year-old daughter goes to Tic Talk, said he only found out about the closure plans when he made an inquiry after hearing a rumour.

He has now launched a Facebook campaign in a bid to have the closure plans overturned.

“This will impact frontline services at St John’s because some staff will have to leave their employment to provide their own child care,” Mr McKain said.

Livingston MSP Angela Constance has contacted senior NHS Lothian officials in a bid to hold talks over the closure.

Ms Constance said most parents using Tic Talk were shift employees at St John’s who worked long hours that fell outside of opening times for other nurseries.

She said: “Given the number of women that work in the local hospital in Livingston, I think it’s a very regressive and highly regrettable move.

“It’s a highly-regarded nursery. If you speak to any of the parents who have children who attend Tic Talk, they feel very passionate about the high standard of care that their children receive.

“They [NHS Lothian] have not consulted parents, they’ve not looked at alternative options.”

Tic Talk has been running since St John’s Hospital first opened in 1989 and its closure is the latest in a series of nursery cuts by the health board.

Acorns Nursery at the ERI is due to shut next month in a move expected to result in 16 job losses, while the former Royal Edinburgh Children’s Nursery at the hospital in Morningside turned private in 2011.

Stuart Wilson, NHS Lothian director of communications and public affairs, said: “We have reviewed all nursery provision and as the Tic Talk Nursery is not self-funding and currently receives a subsidy in excess of £70,000 a year from NHS Lothian, we have decided it would be better to reinvest this money in frontline health services.

“There have been significant changes in nursery provision in the area in recent years with nine nurseries now operating in the vicinity of the hospital.

“With the advent of nursery school places for three to five-year-olds, the majority of children reduced their attendance at the Tic Talk Nursery to move into pre-school education.”