Nicola Sturgeon refuses to be drawn on future of children’s ward
First Minister: NHS Lothian review will be “thorough” but will be published after election
Nicola Sturgeon has insisted the downgrading of paediatric services at St John’s hospital in Livingston has not yet been decided, despite allegations an NHS Lothian review into services has been postponed until after the election for political purposes.
The report on the future of the children’s ward is expected to focus on whether it should close or be downgraded, and the health board indicated the findings may be “politically contentious”.
Lothians MSP Neil Findlay used First Minister’s Questions to ask Sturgeon to “be straight with the people of West Lothian” and guarantee the service.
“I am really sure that the Government played no part at all in kicking yet another important review into touch until after the election,” he said.
The First Minister said the Government would support the health board to conduct a “full and thorough” review.
“We want to ensure that there is a sustainable service in place. That is why it is right for NHS Lothian to instruct a thorough review. I was the health secretary who inherited a position from the last Labour Government in which St John’s hospital was possibly in terminal decline. This Government reversed that situation: we turned it around so that St John’s hospital is today a thriving local hospital,” she said.
The children's ward at St John's treats about 3,000 youngsters every year but has suffered from staff shortages. Meanwhile Edinburgh’s Royal Hospital for Sick Children is being located at a new £150m site next to the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh in Little France.
The centralisation of services in Glasgow this year has seen the city's new super hospital struggle to cope with demand.
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