Children's ward to close for second time in a week

Staff shortages are behind the decision at St John's Hospital in Livingston.

Hospital: Emergency department will remain open. CC / Anne Burgess / Cropped

A children's ward has closed for the second time in a week due to staff shortages.

The children's short stay assessment unit at St John's Hospital in Livingston, West Lothian, will be closed on Saturday.

The unit was also shut last Sunday due to a lack of doctors to cover weekend and evening shifts.

Children will still be examined and treated in the emergency department and a paediatric consultant will be on call at all times.

Those who need to be admitted will be transferred to the Royal Hospital for Sick Children in Edinburgh.

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A statement from NHS Lothian cited "ongoing staffing and recruitment issues which mean there are not enough doctors available to cover overnight and weekends".

The health board said this was "coupled with late notification of clinician unavailability".

Jacquie Campbell, chief officer of acute services at NHS Lothian, 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.

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

NHS Lothian said parents should not do anything differently and should call NHS 24 on 111 if they require health advice on Saturday.

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