Protest over continued closure of children’s ward

Protest over closed St John's children's ward
Protest over closed St John's children's ward
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Parents and carers held a protest outside St John’s Hospital in Livingston yesterday over the continued closure of a children’s ward to in-patients who have to be seen out of hours.

The demonstration called on the Scottish Government and NHS Lothian to sort out staffing issues that have led to the vital ward being closed for over 200 days.

This has meant that over 400 children from West Lothian have not been treated locally and have had to travel through to the Royal Hospital for Sick Children in Edinburgh. The ward, which has been closed for out of hours in-patients since July last year, was hit by similar summer shutdowns in 2012 and 2015.

Scottish Labour MSP Neil Findlay said the situation has been going on for six years and called on NHS Lothian and the Scottish Government to sort out the problem.

He said: “This demonstration has come about because parents of children who have had to use this service are angry that there appears to be no resolution to this problem. It has been going on for six years with no end in sight and only recently we have discovered that since July 7th a total of 414 children have had to be transferred out of hours to the Royal Hospital for Sick Children in Edinburgh. They should have been treated in their own hospital. NHS Lothian and the SNP government must bring about a plan to end this scandal.”

Joing the protest were Coady Dorman from Broxburn and her three-year-old son Matthew who was a premature baby and has a number of health issues that would ideally see him treated at St John’s.

She said: “Hopefully this protest grabs the attention of the people who are in charge. Matthew suffered from a bout of croup in October that left him struggling to breathe and NHS 24 sent an ambulance. Because he took ill at night, we were rushed to Edinburgh where he was given treatment.

“At 1am I was told he was well enough to go home. But that left me in the city with no money to get home to Broxburn.”

Coady said the NHS put on a taxi for her to get home.

She said: “I was grateful for the taxi but it left me questioning – ‘how much is that costing the NHS?’”

The health board have recruited two staff since the end of 2017.

Jacquie Campbell, Chief Officer of Acute Services, NHS Lothian, said: “This is a really positive move.

“We have our sixth consultant joining the team and we have made an offer to another clinician which means seven new consultant posts have been filled.”