Anger as fears grow for future of kids ward

Pic Lisa Ferguson 08/06/2015'St Johns Hospital, Livingston'Accident & Emergency'Police, no smoking, smoke free zone
Pic Lisa Ferguson 08/06/2015'St Johns Hospital, Livingston'Accident & Emergency'Police, no smoking, smoke free zone

The threat of vital paediatric services being permanently downgraded has led council chiefs to hit out.

Changes were made at St John’s Hospital earlier this month due to staffing problems over the summer.

But NHS Lothian has failed to give assurances that the children’s ward will ever resume normal service.

West Lothian Council leader, Councillor John McGinty, said: “We share the anger and frustration felt by West Lothian families and what is equally frustrating is the lack of clarity and answers from both the Scottish Government and NHS Lothian on the long term future of paediatric services at St John’s.

“The failure to provide the people of West Lothian with assurances over the future of the children’s ward will only further add to the local community’s worry and concern, and it is completely unacceptable.

“The council’s position is very clear. We opposed any reduction in service and the full service should resume as quickly as possible.”

A meeting with the Scottish Government has been arranged in August to review the downgrading of services and to look at whether the workforce is sustainable for the months ahead.

Dr Eddie Doyle, divisional medical director of women’s and children’s services, said: “We have been clear that the safety of children must be our top priority and that this reduction in opening hours is the safest option for the time being. All our services must be appropriately staffed without the unacceptable risk of last minute closure.

“We have relied on our dedicated staff from St John’s and across Lothian to work additional hours to provide these services but cannot continue to rely indefinitely on a small number of staff working excessive hours.”

MSP Fiona Hyslop said: “I have met with the chief executive of NHS Lothian recently and made it very clear that the admission hours to the children’s ward at St John’s Hospital must return to normal once these temporary restrictions come to an end in August.”