Edinburgh, Fife & East Scotland

St John's hospital children's ward in recruitment drive

St John's hospital Image copyright Richard Webb

A recruitment drive has been launched to boost the workforce at a children's ward in West Lothian previously closed as a result of staff shortages.

NHS Lothian said the campaign was part of a major work programme to ensure the sustainability of the paediatric ward at St John's Hospital in Livingston.

The health board is seeking to recruit eight consultants as well as advanced paediatric nurse practitioners.

They will work at St John's and the Royal Hospital for Sick Children.

24 hours

A question mark had hung over the future of the paediatric ward at St John's after two temporary closures to new inpatients resulted in NHS Lothian commissioning an independent examination of services.

The expert review by the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH) concluded inpatient children's services should be retained at St John's and the Royal Hospital for Sick Children in Edinburgh.

It recommended St John's move to a system that would involve consultants being resident in the hospital overnight, with each consultant required to do occasional overnight shifts, backed up by on-call consultant staff at home.

The model has already been put in place at other hospitals across the UK and was expected to take an estimated two years to implement in full.

In the interim, RCPCH proposed St John's operate a 24-hour "low acuity" unit which does not admit children between 20:00 and 08:00 when consultants are not there.

However, NHS Lothian said a working group set up to take forward the report's recommendations had proposed the preferred resident consultant system be implemented using the existing workforce from next month.

Jim Crombie, acting chief executive, said: "This is clear evidence of NHS Lothian's commitment to sustaining safe paediatrics services at St John's Hospital.

"This has been achieved by a huge effort by the clinical teams across paediatrics, but especially at St John's Hospital."

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