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Concerns over hospital's future as bed numbers drop

The number of intensive care beds at St John's Hospital in Livingston has fallen from 25 to 14.

St John's: Children's ward closing to inpatients over summer.
St John's: Children's ward closing to inpatients over summer. CC / Anne Burgess / Cropped

Concerns have been raised about a drop in the number of beds at a hospital in central Scotland.

The number of intensive care beds at St John's Hospital in Livingston, West Lothian, has fallen from 25 in 2003 to 14 in 2016.

Over the same period, the number of non-intensive beds also dropped from 503 to 432.

It follows news the children's ward at the hospital will close to inpatients over the summer as a result of staff shortages.

The figures were obtained via FOI by the Scottish Conservatives.

Miles Briggs, the party's health spokesman, said: "Nicola Sturgeon gave her word to the people of West Lothian that her government was committed to St John's.

"One closed children's ward and a halving of intensive care beds later, that is clearly not the case. This is a deliberate downgrade.

"People in the area have long suspected that St John's was being eroded from a respected acute hospital to little more than a day unit. In recent weeks, those fears have been confirmed."

Health secretary Shona Robison said: "St John's Hospital is a vital and valued acute facility and we remain committed to services there.

Bed numbers have changed over the last decade for a variety of reasons - in particular changes to the way healthcare is delivered and advances in medicine leading to the welcome result of shorter hospital stays, same day surgery and more care in the community. All of which benefit patients.

"The changes to the children's ward at St John's Hospital over the summer are a temporary measure and I have made clear to NHS Lothian the importance I attach to early reinstatement of this vital service."

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