Children’s services at a hospital in West Lothian are now operating on a full-time basis – three years after some treatments were halted.
The Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH) investigated care at St John’s Hospital in Livingston after overnight services were suspended in 2017 due to staff shortages.
They were reinstated for four nights a week on an interim basis in March 2019, with the hospital aiming to return to full-time cover for the paediatric and neonatal departments.
The services are now operating on a 24/7 basis after a recruitment campaign to expand the workforce.
The RCPCH had warned in a report in June that “concerns regarding the fragility of the service” were not addressed and if full-time care did not restart within a year to 18 months, the departments could become a short-stay paediatric assessment unit, with children needing overnight stays treated at other hospitals.
Dr Tracey Gillies, medical director at NHS Lothian, said: “We recognise how important having access to a 24/7 service is for children and their families in West Lothian.
“NHS Lothian has always been fully committed to restoring the 24/7 service at St John’s but our priority was to do this in a way which was both safe and sustainable.”
The change means patients who require to remain in hospital over a weekend will be able to do so at St John’s instead of routinely being transferred to the Royal Hospital for Sick Children in Edinburgh.
Dr Gillies added: “The availability of a 24/7 children’s service will make a welcome difference for people living in the West Lothian area and the team are delighted to have reached this stage.
“I would like to take the opportunity to recognise and thank staff for their hard work and dedication in supporting and enabling this development to happen.”
Latest recruitment campaigns resulted in the hiring of two further consultants and one locum, as well as a small number of ward nursing staff.