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St John's paediatric services

West Lothian Council has renewed calls for the Cabinet Secretary for Health and Sport to intervene over re-establishing a full paediatric service at St. John's Hospital in Livingston.

08 February

Council Executive has approved a motion instructing the council's Chief Executive to write to Shona Robison MSP once more, to call on her to work to restore 24/7 paediatric services at the earliest date.

Members of the Council Executive received an update from senior NHS staff on their efforts to resolve the recruitment issues affecting paediatrics at St John's.  They confirmed that NHS Lothian still do not have enough staff in place to allow them to re-open the paediatric ward to admissions on a 24/7 basis, despite some progress in recruiting additional staff and advanced training for existing staff to allow them to take on more responsibilities.

A total of 432 children have been transferred from St John's to the Sick Kids in Edinburgh since the ward was closed to admissions in July 2017, the fifth closure since 2012. The council is also calling for NHS Lothian to provide free transport for those who have incurred expensive taxi fares as a result of the changes.

Leader of the Council Lawrence Fitzpatrick said: "It's a huge concern to many West Lothian families that the children's ward at St John's has been running a reduced services for seven months, and that there is still no confirmed date for it to re-open on a 24/7 basis.

"West Lothian is one of the fastest growing communities in Scotland with around 30,000 children, and for 432 families to be forced to travel through to Edinburgh in often difficult circumstances is simply unacceptable.

"We are again calling on Cabinet Secretary Shona Robison to commit to working with NHS Lothian towards a return of full paediatric services at St John's, as a solution must be found that guarantees an all year round service for West Lothian's children as soon as possible.

"We are also calling for NHS Lothian to provide free transport for families sent to Sick Kids who have had to pay out expensive taxi fares. It is unfair that high travel costs should be an additional burden on families in these circumstances." 

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