NHS Lothian board reaffirms commitment to maintaining services at St John’s Hospital

The NHS Lothian board reaffirmed its commitment to maintaining paediatric, neonatal and maternity services at St John’s Hospital, Livingston, at its meeting today (Wednesday, 28 March 2012).


Medical Director, Dr David Farquharson provided the board with an overview of the current situation and outlined the range of steps being taken to ensure that these services can be maintained.


The board heard that one paediatric consultant has been appointed as a result of the on-going recruitment campaign and will join the team at St John’s Hospital in July.  Feedback from this recruitment process has been used to inform the next round of advertising for paediatric and neonatal consultants. The board also heard that doctors in Australia and New Zealand are being targeted.


Dr​ Farquharson pointed out that communication around the staffing challenges has been open and transparent throughout and that this approach has seen him outline the key risks in his paper to ensure board members are aware of the possible worst case scenarios.


The board welcomed Dr Farquharson’s update and recognised the considerable efforts being made to ensure paediatric, neonatal and maternity services at St John’s Hospital are maintained.


Dr Farquharson, Medical Director, NHS Lothian said:  “NHS Lothian is absolutely committed to sustaining safe and properly staffed paediatric, neonatal and maternity service at St John’s Hospital.”


Dr Charles Winstanley, Chair, NHS Lothian said: “We are doing all that we can and I want to reaffirm the board’s commitment to these services, which has already been expressed time and time again.”


Eddie Egan, Vice Chair and Employee Director, NHS Lothian, said: “It is clear that there is a full financial commitment to solving these staffing challenges. It’s not about money. I would like to thank the staff at St John’s Hospital for the tremendous work they have done to support the service and keep it operating.”


Notes to Editors:

NHS Lothian is part of the South East Scotland training programme for paediatrics and neonatal services and placements are managed on a regional basis. An unprecedented number of paediatric trainees are temporarily unavailable to work in South East Scotland for reasons such as maternity leave and gaining additional paediatric training elsewhere. It is anticipated that throughout the UK 10 to 15 per cent of trainees at any one time will be unavailable for a variety of reasons. However, the figure for South East Scotland is 33 per cent - more than double the UK average. This has led to at least 14 gaps or vacancies within the region.


Professor Bill Reid, Dean of Postgraduate Medicine, NHS Education for Scotland (South East Region), has decided to allocate those trainees who are available across fewer sites within the region. This decision, outwith the hands of NHS Lothian, is at the expense of St John’s Hospital. Unfortunately from 11 April 2012 there will be no trainees at St John's Hospital. Professor Reid has discussed this proposal with the Scottish Government and the General Medical Council.


Eight locum consultant posts (four paediatric and four neonatal) were initially advertised in December 2011 and the recruitment campaign is on-going.




Issued: 28 March 2012