Tories slam dramatic cuts in beds at St John’s

St John's Hospital in Livingston. Picture: Lisa Ferguson
St John's Hospital in Livingston. Picture: Lisa Ferguson
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The number of beds at St John’s Hospital in Livingston has fallen dramatically over the last few years, new figures have revealed.

Figures obtained by the Scottish Conservatives showed the number of intensive care beds had dropped from 25 to 14 between 2003 and last year.

The number of general beds fell from 503 to 432 over the same period.

The Tories said the figures flew in the face of promises by the SNP to retain the hospital’s status, including by then health secretary Nicola Sturgeon in 2007.

It follows news the children’s ward at the hospital is to close to inpatients over the summer as a result of staff shortages.

Scottish Conservative health spokesman Miles Briggs said: “Nicola Sturgeon gave her word to the people of West Lothian that her government was committed to St John’s.

“One closed children’s ward and a halving of intensive care beds later, that is clearly not the case. This is a deliberate downgrade.

“People in the area have long suspected that St John’s was being eroded from a respected acute hospital to little more than a day unit. In recent weeks, those fears have been confirmed.

“Everyone accepts cash is tight in the NHS but St John’s is a facility of critical importance.

“Instead of chipping away at the services it provides, the Scottish Government should be ensuring it can provide a top-class service to the huge swathes of central Scotland who rely on it.”

Health Secretary Shona Robison said: “St John’s Hospital is a vital and valued acute facility and we remain committed to services there. Bed numbers have changed over the last decade for a variety of reasons - in particular changes to the way healthcare is delivered and advances in medicine leading to the welcome result of shorter hospital stays, same day surgery and more care in the community. All of which benefit patients.

“Under this Government there has been substantial investment in improving services at St John’s Hospital - including £7 million of capital funding for a short stay elective surgery unit, £3 million for a new MRI scanner, a refurbished labour ward and special care baby unit, a new regional eating disorders unit and a new Laboratory Medicine Training School which opened in 2014.

“The changes to the children’s ward at St John’s Hospital over the summer are a temporary measure and I have made clear to NHS Lothian the importance I attach to early reinstatement of this vital service.”

Earlier this week St John’s was named as one of six Lothian hospitals at “high risk” when it comes to the need for urgent repairs.

The research, obtained by the Scottish Conservatives, highlighted roof and window infrastructure at St John’s Hospital as “nearing the end of its useful life”.

Mr Briggs said the findings showed NHS buildings across Scotland were in a “desperate state”.