St. John's Hospital in for Potential Patient Boost

A FURTHER 1,000 patients a year from western Edinburgh could be treated at St John's Hospital in Livingston in future under a proposal being discussed by the board of NHS Lothian this week.

Experts in NHS Lothian believe treating more people from western Edinburgh at St John's will ensure patients continue to receive fast and efficient care while spreading the workload between Lothian's three acute hospitals.

At present, if you require specialist treatment you will be taken to whichever hospital hosts the relevant specialist unit irrespective of your postcode. However if you need general medical treatment provided at all three hospitals in Lothian, you will be offered treatment first at the hospital which has been zoned for your postcode, though you can refuse this offer.

NHS Lothian made a commitment in 2005 to examine these zoning arrangements for emergency medical admissions as part of the Better Acute Care in Lothian modernisation project. If the proposal is approved, patients from areas such as Colinton and South Gyle, (known as the Western Edinburgh Corridor or WEC 2) will be asked to go to St John's. In addition, GPs within a number of postcodes further west of Colinton, including Kirkliston, Ratho, Kirknewton, and Balerno, (known as WEC 1) will be reminded to refer patients to St John's whenever possible.

The postcode areas for the WEC 2 zone are:

EH12 8
EH12 7
EH11 3
EH14 1
EH13 0
EH14 3
EH14 2
EH11 4
EH12 9

The postcode areas for the zone where GPs will be reminded to refer patients to St John's (WEC1)are:

EH12 0
EH29 9
EH28 8
EH14 4
EH14 5
EH14 6
EH14 7
EH27 8

Dr Charles Swainson, Medical Director, NHS Lothian, said:

"This proposal is the culmination of extensive work involving people from western Edinburgh. We believe adjusting the zoning arrangements will mean an additional three people a day from western Edinburgh receiving treatment at St John's. NHS Lothian provides hospital care at three sites and this will also help us ensure we use all the resources at our disposal fully while continuing to deliver fast and effective care. While St John's future is already secure, it will also further support the hospital's sustainability."

Over 540 patients from the WEC 1 area (postcodes further west of Colinton, including Kirkliston, Ratho, Kirknewton and Balerno) went to St John's in 2007. Just under a thousand (967) patients went to St John's from the City of Edinburgh during the same year. Four hundred patients from this area went to the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh or the Western General Hospital in the same year. In total, 1,170 patients from West Lothian were admitted to the Western General or Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh in 2007.

St John's has benefitted from recent investment and is an integral part of NHS Lothian's Acute Hospitals Division. The rezoning project found that St John's future is already secure, and the rezoning did not have to occur to guarantee St John's future. It did find however that the proposed transfer would support the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh, Scotland's largest Accident and Emergency Department, in its continued achievement of the 4 hour standard for providing emergency care.

The rezoning team held a number of workshops with community representatives and the public from western Edinburgh.

Dr Swainson said:

"This proposal is subject to the satisfactory resolution of public transport and social work issues identified by patients and the public at these events, which were very helpful in forming our views.
"This proposal represents NHS Lothian delivering again on the commitments we made in the Better Acute Care in Lothian process."

The proposal will be considered by the board of NHS Lothian in public on Wednesday, 26th November, 2008. at the Scottish Health Service Centre, Crewe Road, Edinburgh.