Doctor shortage to close children's ward at St John's hospital in Livingston

Image source, Richard Webb
Image caption, The children's assessment unit at St John's Hospital will be closed on Saturday

A children's unit at a West Lothian hospital will be closed on Saturday due to a shortage of doctors.

The children's short stay assessment unit at St John's Hospital in Livingston will reopen on Sunday.

The closure follows ongoing staffing and recruitment issues which mean there are not enough doctors available to cover overnight and weekends.

NHS Lothian advised parents to call NHS 24. It said children could still be assessed in the emergency department.

The health board said a paediatric consultant would be available on-call at all hours.

NHS Lothian said that if a child needed to be admitted to hospital, a transfer to the Royal Hospital for Sick Children in Edinburgh would be arranged.

It said maternity and neonatal services at the hospital would be unaffected by the closure.

Jacquie Campbell, NHS Lothian's chief officer of acute services, said: "The safety of our patients must be our top priority and for that reason the unit will not open on Saturday.

"Despite our best efforts, we have been unable to reliably secure the levels of staffing required on Saturday to guarantee a safe service.

"This is the safest option for the children of West Lothian and normal service will resume on Sunday."

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