St John's Hospital children's ward limited opening ends

St John's Hospital The ward at St John's Hospital in Livingston had limited opening hours for three weeks

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A children's ward in West Lothian has reopened after operating limited hours for three weeks due to staff shortages.

The St John's hospital ward in Livingston has only opened between 08:00 and 20:00 during weekdays and closed at weekends since 9 July.

It assessed patients on weekdays but transferred children to Edinburgh if they needed to be admitted.

First Minister Alex Salmond and West Lothian Council criticised the temporary move at the time.

Additional staff have now been recruited to support the team at the hospital in the future.

Three new consultant neonatologists and two consultant paediatricians will take up post in the next few weeks.

Adequate back-up

Trainee doctors will also return to the children's ward, with two due to start in August.

Dr David Farquharson, NHS Lothian's medical director, said: "The medical and nursing staff at St John's made Herculean efforts in order to maintain children's and maternity services.

"Despite this, for the three weeks in July, we were unable to ensure that adequate back-up was in place if there was an unplanned absence.

"The alternative, of crossing fingers and hoping for the best, was not good enough.

"I am delighted to say now the department is stronger than ever and we are back to full strength to provide the high quality of care associated with St John's Hospital."

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